Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Do we need value added?

What do you know about “value added” as it relates to teacher evaluation? It is not something on our immediate radar in Washington, but in other parts of the country it has been front page news. I have posted about contracts in Washington D.C., New York and other places that have negotiated agreements using value added modeling as part of their evaluation systems.

In case you have not followed it and are not aware of what it is, below is a Wikipedia definition.

Value-added modeling (also known as value-added analysis and value-added assessment) is a method of teacher evaluation that measures the teacher's contribution in a given year by comparing current school year test scores of their students to the scores of those same students in the previous school year, as well as to the scores of other students in the same grade. In this manner, value-added modeling seeks to isolate the contribution that each teacher makes in a given year, which can be compared to the performance measures of other teachers.[1]

What is beginning to emerge in the field is an understanding of the complexity of teacher evaluation and the need to include multiple criteria before making judgments about teacher effectiveness. This removes the primary focus on using standardized test scores that many policy makers desire, but it does not remove the need to consider these scores in a comprehensive assessment system.

I believe that this will become more of an issue in our state as the evaluation systems that are being piloted begin to form the future parameters for state-mandated evaluation of teachers. In a blog about this pilot they reference a recent report from the National Education Policy Center that cautions against an over reliance on using test scores.

The brief, Getting Teacher Assessment Right: What Policymakers Can Learn from Research notes that most current discussions about improving teacher quality tend to be imbalanced, focusing disproportionately on student test scores. “While there are important questions about what exactly achievement scores can—and cannot—indicate about individual teachers, there is no question that placing extreme emphasis on test scores alone can have unintended and undesirable consequences that undermine the goal of developing an excellent teaching force,” says Hinchey.

The debate is on and you can find reports and individuals that support either position related to the use of test scores. In this New York Times article you can read how eight people feel, four for use and four against use of test scores. I think they capture the essence of how most of us feel.

What are your thoughts about the role of value added in teacher evaluations? Should student achievement growth from year-to-year be used to measure the effectiveness of a teacher? How should measures of teacher effectiveness be used?


Stacy said...

My first thought was, they can't possibly measure teachers performances by just the scores. Ridiculous! I have a friend in a low income area and she is literally at her wits end because the 6th graders cannot even complete 3rd grade work as a class, yet here she is desperate for her kids to glean something so they might have a chance of scrapping by. How did these children get this far? Only 3 passed msp last year out of the 56 kids in the whole sixth grade! I know her to be an extremely well planned educator versed in differentiation. How can she be judged by the faulty system? Sadly enough she is ready to leave the profession, which is a shameful thing when she believes SO passionately about her work.
Interestingly enough my second thought was well... each year we evaluate the children on their wasl/msp scores to determine if they are eligible to graduate, etc. So... now the shoe is on the other foot and we educators could now be held by the same standard as the kids, are we are crying foul play. Hmm... Not sure how I feel about that. Maybe we should address that there is more to the educational problems besides ineffective teachers and children needing obvious support. Maybe we are finally scratching the surface of what is really wrong here in the America. The blame and excuses have to stop at some point, what is it the say about the 5 stages of acceptance?

Seeking Shared Learning said...


Your thoughts mirror the problems with using just one measure of effectiveness and your struggle with student accountablity compared to teacher accountability is where many of us are at.

It is so sad that your friend is considering leaving the profession, but that, unfortunately, is all too common.

Thanks for sharing your comment.