School & District Management

‘Value Added’ Models for Gauging Gains Called Promising

By Lynn Olson — October 25, 2005 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

“Value added” models that track the test-score gains of individual students over time hold great promise but should not yet be used as the main basis for rewarding or punishing teachers, according to two reports released this month.

The reports, by a study group of the National Association of State Boards of Education and by Henry I. Braun, a researcher at the Educational Testing Service, describe such models as a welcome antidote to judging teachers and schools based solely on whether their students have exceeded some absolute level of performance.

Value-added models “move the discussion about teacher quality to where it belongs: centered on increasing student learning as the primary goal of teaching,” writes Mr. Braun in “Using Student Progress to Evaluate Teachers: A Primer on Value-Added Models.”

“Using Student Progress to Evaluate Teachers: A Primer on Value-Added Models” is posted by Educational Testing Service.

The executive summary of “Evaluating Value-Added: Findings and Recommendations From the NASBE Study Group on Value-Added Assessments” is available from the National Association of State Boards of Education.

But he cautions that practical and technical problems remain. In particular, while studies suggest a relationship between teacher quality and gains in student learning, that suggestion is far from proving that an individual teacher has caused a student to make progress or not.

“Such interpretations are most credible when students are randomly sorted into classes, and teachers are randomly assigned to those classes,” Mr. Braun says in the study from the Princeton, N.J.-based test-maker. “In reality, the classroom placement of students and teachers is far from random.”

Student learning also can be influenced by a variety of factors beyond a teacher’s control, he continues, such as the physical condition and resources of the school, which are hard to account for in the statistical models available.

Caution Urged

While value-added models might play some role in teacher evaluation, agrees NASBE’s study group on value-added assessment, they should be used with caution.

“We believe that educators should recognize that value-added assessment is a ‘tool,’ ” says the report from the Alexandria, Va.-based organization, “but it is not ‘total’—and indeed that the data can only with certainty identify about the top 10 percent and bottom 10 percent of teachers.”

Both reports suggest that value-added methods hold great potential for making lower-stakes decisions about teachers, such as identifying those who need extra training or support.

Such models also introduce “the promise of a much-needed quantitative component in teacher evaluation,” argues Mr. Braun, but should always be combined with other sources of information, such as observations of classroom performance.

The NASBE study group also was enthusiastic about the use of value-added measures as a “data-driven component” of efforts to improve instruction at the classroom, school, and district levels.

“Indeed, many believe that this is the most significant advantage of value-added models,” the report says.

Many states are exploring ways to add a “growth” or value-added measure to calculate whether schools are making adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The NASBE study group urges the U.S. Department of Education to allow for the use of such growth indicators as a component of AYP calculations.

Adding evidence of students’ academic growth is needed “not only out of fairness,” the study group says, but also because when combined with measures of absolute achievement, the method also provides “the most accurate picture of the effectiveness of schools.”

“In addition,” it says, “failure to use growth as one indicator of success could end up making it even more difficult to retain effective teachers in disadvantaged schools.”

That’s because schools whose students start far below the proficient level on state tests may make great progress over the course of a year and yet still not meet state targets for achievement.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the October 26, 2005 edition of Education Week as ‘Value Added’ Models for Gauging Gains Called Promising

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Be the Change: Strategies to Make Year-Round Hiring Happen
Learn how to leverage actionable insights to diversify your recruiting efforts and successfully deploy a year-round recruiting plan.
Content provided by Frontline
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Critical Ways Leaders Can Build a Culture of Belonging and Achievement
Explore innovative practices for using technology to build an environment of belonging and achievement for all staff and students.
Content provided by DreamBox Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Strategies for Improving Student Outcomes with Teacher-Student Relationships
Explore strategies for strengthening teacher-student relationships and hear how districts are putting these methods into practice to support positive student outcomes.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management How District Leaders Can Make Sure Teachers Don't Miss the Loan-Forgiveness Deadline
Many teachers and other public employees may not know they qualify for a student loan-forgiveness waiver that has an Oct. 31 deadline.
4 min read
Young adult woman cutting the ball and chain labeled "Debt" which is attached as the tassel hanging from a graduate's mortarboard
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management Download A Visual Guide to Nonverbal Communication (Download)
Understanding nonverbal communication can help you improve interactions and get your message across.
1 min read
v42 8SR Nonverbal Communication Share Image
Gina Tomko/Education Week and Getty
School & District Management Ensure Your Staff Gets the Message: 3 Tips for School Leaders
School staff are inundated with information. Here's a few ways to ensure they will actually hear you.
3 min read
Image showing a female and male in business attire connecting speech bubble puzzle pieces.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management Keep School Staff Motivated All Year Long: Advice From Principals
Here are some of the things—big and small—that school leaders do and say to keep teachers excited about the job.
13 min read
Teachers and faculty play a game of Kahoot! to get to know one another better during a Welcome Back training at CICS Bucktown on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022 in Chicago, Ill.
Teachers and faculty play a game to get to know one another better during a Welcome Back training at Chicago's CICS Bucktown in August.
Taylor Glascock for Education Week