To the Editor:
“Salvaging Accountability” by Thomas Toch and Douglas N. Harris (Commentary, Oct. 1, 2008) speaks to the faulty premises of the No Child Left Behind Act as a school accountability measure. The chief problem is schools’ responsibility for outcome determinants over which they have no control, including physical, mental, and emotional characteristics, as well as experiential histories.
“Value added” approaches are far more sensible than absolute standards. Those approaches must recognize, however, that student characteristics and experiences are a continuing influence on achievement, rather than being limited to the past. They must be accounted for in value-added programs as well for them to be rational.
A version of this article appeared in the November 05, 2008 edition of Education Week as Increasing the Scope of ‘Value Added’ Approaches