Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor

Student Inspiration Not Gauged by Value-Added Data

September 23, 2014 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

I read with interest the article on principals’ lack of attention to value-added data when evaluating teachers. The article suggested that principals don’t use value-added data because they don’t understand it. I strongly disagree.

As a principal, I would never use value-added data—even if I cared to understand it. The question is not how to use the data; it is whether we should use the data.

If we believe the purpose of teaching is to provide all manner of opportunities for students to maximize their potential as learners, as opposed to raising student achievement, then we don’t need value-added data. Instead, we need to evaluate teachers based on their ability to inspire learning, not on what we think has been learned after a mere 180 days in the classroom annually.

Yesterday I was copied on an email from a college student thanking her 9th grade teacher for inspiring her to love classical literature. She wrote: “I feel like my time in your English classroom laid the foundation for my curiosity. ... I can trace the majority of my current academic interests to a conversation or episode in your classroom.”

Other than the email itself, how does this teacher get credit for her clear success with this student? How is this student’s value added to a teacher’s evaluation? Can the value of a teacher be assessed by a complex statistical method? Or, is the true value of a teacher the personal relationships she or he establishes that inspire lifelong learning?

Matt Ragone


Langley High School

McLean, Va.

A version of this article appeared in the September 24, 2014 edition of Education Week as Student Inspiration Not Gauged By Value-Added Data


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.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Start Strong With Solid SEL Implementation: Success Strategies for the New School Year
Join Satchel Pulse to learn why implementing a solid SEL program at the beginning of the year will deliver maximum impact to your students.
Content provided by Satchel Pulse
Teaching Live Online Discussion Seat at the Table: How Can We Help Students Feel Connected to School?
Get strategies for your struggles with student engagement. Bring questions for our expert panel. Help students recover the joy of 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.
Science Webinar
Real-World Problem Solving: How Invention Education Drives Student Learning
Hear from student inventors and K-12 teachers about how invention education enhances learning, opens minds, and preps students for the future.
Content provided by The Lemelson Foundation

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

Teaching Profession How Teachers Are Spending Their Summer Vacation
Swimming, hiking, and an occasional academic project are on the agenda.
1 min read
Lifeguards watch over children and their families as they enjoy the shallow end of the Woodson Family Aquatic Center on the opening day of the 2022 pool season Saturday, May 28, 2022 in Odessa, Texas.
Lifeguards watch over children and their families at the Woodson Family Aquatic Center as pool season opens in Odessa, Texas.
Eli Hartman/Odessa American via AP
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Can Educators Agree to Disagree Respectfully?
We must acknowledge that there are strong, defensible differences in perspectives about divisive topics, writes an educator.
1 min read
Illustration of an open laptop receiving an email.
Teaching Profession Q&A The First 5 Years in the Classroom Are Tough. This Teacher Has Ideas to Lessen the Burden
A middle school teacher talks about why educators need to share stories about their jobs—and find schools that reflect their values.
7 min read
Patrick Harris
Patrick Harris
Teaching Profession Teachers in Texas Shooting Died Trying to Shield Students, Their Families Say
Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia, both veteran teachers, co-taught a 4th grade class at their Uvalde, Texas, elementary school.
3 min read
Fourth grade co-teachers Irma Garcia, left, and Eva Mireles.
Fourth grade co-teachers Irma Garcia, left, and Eva Mireles, were killed in the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, alongside 19 children.
Courtesy of Uvalde CISD