To the Editor:
Regarding Linda Darling-Hammond’s “Value-Added Teacher Evaluation—The Harm Behind the Hype,” (Commentary, March 14, 2012), I continually wished that she would have provided citations for the many experiments (Tennessee and New York) or reviews (RAND Corp. and Educational Testing Service) she presented, permitting readers the opportunity to decide for themselves whether the studies referred to drew the same conclusions as she did.
More importantly, Ms. Darling-Hammond’s conclusion that the alternative to value-added teacher evaluation begins with “rigorous, ongoing assessment by experts” fails to define the qualifications of the “expert.” The reader is left to guess whether her expert is one who has been successful and effective with students (and, if so, how did she determine the success or effectiveness?), or is the expert an individual who is respected by one’s colleagues (and, if so, why so?).
My conclusion is that Ms. Darling-Hammond fails to present a viable alternative to the value-added approach that she now criticizes. This is not to say that this approach is optimal, but do we have anything better?
Marc F. Bernstein
New York, N.Y.
The writer is a retired superintendent in New York state.
A version of this article appeared in the April 04, 2012 edition of Education Week as Value-Added May Be Best Option Right Now