Teaching Profession

‘Value Added’ Data Need Careful Analysis, Consideration, Statisticians’ Group Says

By Stephen Sawchuk — April 08, 2014 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

If you’ve been following this blog, then you know that there are few more controversial policy shifts of late than the integration of “value added” methodolgies, which are based on students’ standardized-test scores, into teachers’ performance evaluations.

Some scholars believe that they models are too “noisy” and error-prone to be used for such purposes. Other researchers are have argued that they’re akin to other widely accepted statistical estimates of performance, such as a baseball player’s batting average. Still others think they could be used informally, as a “check” or screen on evaluation results rather than as a component.

There are qualitative objections, as well, on the grounds that doubling-down on test scores could affect teaching in unproductive ways, i.e., by promoting “teaching to the test.”

Adding its perspective to this volatile mix, the American Statistical Association today issued a position statement on the use of value-added models, or VAMs. Its takeaways for the K-12 community: Proceed carefully and make sure teachers, adminsitrators, and parents are aware of VAM’s limitations.

For instance, the group notes, test quality and the types of controls used in the formulas will affect the end results. Moreover, the ASA says, the focus on individual teachers’ performance could detract from needed attention to system improvement.

“VAMs should be viewed within the context of quality improvement, which distinguishes aspects of quality that can be attributed to the system from those that can be attributed to individual teachers, teacher preparation programs, or schools. Most VAM studies find that teachers account for about 1 percent to 14 percent of the variability in test scores, and that the majority of opportunities for quality improvement are found in the system-level conditions,” the statement says.

That said, the group does believe that the information obtained through VAMs can be put to good use in education.

“For example, the models can provide information on important sources of variability, and they can allow teachers and schools to see how their students have performed on the assessment instruments relative to students with similar prior test scores. Teachers and schools can then explore targeted new teaching techniques or professional-development activities, while building on their strengths,” the statement reads.

Find the full statement here.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


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.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
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
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
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.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

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 Opinion ‘A Culture of Care’: How Schools Can Alleviate Educator Stress This Year
It takes more than deep breathing to alleviate the stress teachers feel. Here's how to get to the root cause.
Sean Slade & Alyssa Gallagher
6 min read
shutterstock 740616958 resized
Teaching Profession Reported Essay Students Aren’t the Only Ones Grieving
Faced with so many losses stemming from the pandemic, what can be done to help teachers manage their own grief?
4 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Teaching Profession We Feel Your Grief: Remembering the 1,000 Plus Educators Who've Died of COVID-19
The heartbreaking tally of lives lost to the coronavirus continues to rise and take a steep toll on school communities.
3 min read
090321 1000 Educators Lost BS
Education Week
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Educators Have a Responsibility to Support the Common Good
A science teacher responds to another science teacher's hesitation to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
1 min read