Educational assessments traditionally examine a single set of knowledge, at a single point in time. However, modern educators know that knowledge is something that can be gained and lost over time, and must thus be constantly reassessed (and, potentially, re-taught) in order to ensure proper retention.
Value-added assessment is designed to ensure that students are learning, by comparing their current knowledge and skills against their previous knowledge and skills. In essence, this type of assessment focuses on student growth, rather than comparisons to other students or accomplishments of specific achievement levels. Value-added assessment provides an objective way of evaluating teachers and is less about who a student is than about what goes on in the classroom.
Value-added assessment can be done at the student level, classroom or teacher level, or school level. It offers a variety of advantages over norm-referenced and criterion-referenced assessment, including the following:
1. Value-added assessment moves the focus from statistics and demographics to asking of essential questions such as, “How well are students progressing?”
2. Value-added assessment focuses on student growth, which allows teachers and students to be recognized for their improvement. This measurement applies equally to high-performing and advantaged students and under-performing or disadvantaged students.
3. Value-added assessment provides results that are tied to teacher effectiveness, not student demographics; this is a much more fair accountability measure.
4. Value-added assessment is not a stand-alone solution, but it does provide rich data that helps educators make data-driven decisions.
5. Value-added assessment assumes that teachers matter and recognizes that a good teacher can facilitate student improvement.
Value-added assessment is a highly effective way of ensuring that information is not only being learned for a single exam, but also remembered and put back into practice over time. If U.S. students are to compete on the global scale, their skills and knowledge-base must be kept up and sharpened, instead of let to go soft once the standardized testing period for it is over.
Are you using value-added assessment in your classroom? If not, how can you introduce the practice into your curriculum? As a teacher, it’s your responsibility to make sure your students are receiving the best education you can give - and value-added assessment is certainly a part of that.
The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.