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The Best Resources For Learning About The “Value-Added” Approach Towards Teacher Evaluation

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'VAM issues' photo (c) 2013, John Spencer - EdRethink - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

(UPDATE: Readers might also be interested in “The Best Posts About The LA Times Article On “Valued-Added” Teacher Ratings”)

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The Best Posts & Articles About The New York Court Decision Releasing Teacher Ratings

I’m part of a group of teachers working with The Center For Teaching Quality that’s preparing a policy report on Teacher Working Conditions and how they relate to student learning.

I’m learning a lot about many things during research, and one of them is about the “valued added” approach that’s being discussed a lot for use in teacher evaluation. And what I’m finding is leaving me deeply concerned about it.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Learning About Effective Student & Teacher Assessments.

I thought readers here might find it useful to see what I think are The Best Resources For Learning About The “Value-Added” Approach Towards Teacher Evaluation (please feel free to leave your comments and other suggestions in the comments section, too):

The National Research Council and the National Academy of Education jointly issued a report on value-added approaches, and their report has been summarized in The Washington Post. Don’t rush to link teacher evaluation to student achievement is a must-read.

No Value Added: The Mismeasurement of Teaching Quality is a column by David M. Cohen that appeared in Teacher Magazine. By the way, be sure to check-out the InterACT blog written by David and others who are members of Accomplished California Teachers (I’m a member, too!).

Pondering Legal Implications of Value-Added Teacher Evaluation raises some interesting points.

How NOT to Evaluate Teachers is by Daniel Willingham. It’s a couple of years old, but still definitely relevant.

Willingham refers to a post titled My Value-Added Bucket List by eduwonkette, who used to write at Education Week.

Using Value-Added Measures to Evaluate Teachers at Educational Leadership reviews some recent research.

The No Stats All Star raises a key point in evaluating teachers…and basketball players.

The Hechinger Ed Report has a nice summary of a major study that raises questions about using test scores to evaluate teachers:

In a typical rating system aimed at identifying poorly performing teachers, one in four teachers whose performance is fine could be misidentified as bad. At the same time, teachers whose students underperform had a one in four chance of being mislabeled as average performers.

School Finance 101 also has an analysis of the report.

Were some D.C. teachers fired based on flawed calculations? is title of a piece the Washington Post. It’s another cautionary tale about “value-added” teacher assessment.

Proceed with Caution: Using Standardized Test Scores in High-Stakes Decisions is the title of a good post by Anne O’Brien at The Learning First Alliance. It links to stories about recent problems with New York and Florida state standardized tests, and discusses that problems like these wave a caution flag to notions like teacher merit pay.

You can see a video explaining the problems of the “value-added” approach here.

A Measured Approach: Value-Added Models Are a Promising Improvement, but No One Measure Can Evaluate Teacher Performance by Daniel Koretz

LA Times Value-Added Release – Problems and Solutions at The Quick and The Ed (I’d recommend you skip down to the “Problems with Value Added Measures of Teacher Effectiveness” section and also read John Thompson’s comment)

Putting Teachers to the Test is a good explanation of “value-added” measures for teachers, where they are evaluated on their students’ growth in test scores. The Wall Street Journal published it .

Problems with the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers is a report from the Economic Policy Institute, and may be the best study out there. Ken Bernstein has written a good post about it.

“Are Test Scores the Right Measuring Stick for Teachers?” is a good short piece from American RadioWorks.

Formula to Grade Teachers’ Skill Gains in Use, and Critics is an article in The New York Times. It seems to me to be one of the better short accessible pieces out there about the “valued-added” approach.

Assessing A Teacher’s Value is the headline of a New York Times feature that highlights four supporters and four critiques of the “value-added” approach of assessing teachers. Critics including Linda Darling-Hammond and Diane Ravitch.

Teacher Added-Value Scores: Publish and Perish is a very thoughtful analysis of the problems inherent in publishing the “value-added” assessments of teachers. It’s from the Albert Shanker Institute, and raises some issues I haven’t seen raised elsewhere.

Is D.C.’s teacher evaluation system rigged? is a guest post by Aaron Pallas at The Washington Post’s “Answer Sheet” blog. It makes some excellent points about the “value-added” assessment system for teachers, including some I hadn’t heard before.

Public Displays of Teacher Effectiveness is a column from Ed Week.

Hurdles Emerge in Rising Effort to Rate Teachers is the headline of a New York Times article that gives a fair-to-middlin’ overview on the issue of using the value-added approach in teacher assessment. It does have some good info.

Neither Fair Nor Accurate • Research-Based Reasons Why High-Stakes Tests Should Not Be Used to Evaluate Teachers comes from Rethinking Schools.

Mike Dwyer: Value Adders – the newest members of the Monday Morning Quarterback Club comes from Anthony Cody’s blog at Ed Week.

I was critical of the December, 2010 Gate Foundation report on supporting the value-added approach towards teacher evaluation, and I wasn’t the only one. A well-regarded professor and economist, Jess Rothstein, has come-out with a thorough, and critical, analysis of that same report. In addition to reviewing his report (or instead of), you could read summaries of it here:

Premises, Presentation And Predetermination In The Gates MET Study at the Shanker Blog.

New analysis challenges Gates study on value-added measures by Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.

How About a Measures of Effective Reporting Project? by Sabrina Stevens Shupe at The Huffington Post.

“Beyond Value-Added Models…Getting the Mechanics of High-Stakes Teacher Effectiveness Policies Right” is a post at Ed Week by Dan Goldhaber. I’m not too thrilled by the article itself. However, the comments section is a must-read for anyone interested in teacher evaluation. The multiple comments by John Thompson are especially insightful.

The pitfalls of putting economists in charge of education is a useful post by Diane Ravitch.

The “three great teachers in a row” myth is a piece by Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.

Evaluating New York Teachers, Perhaps the Numbers Do Lie is an article from The New York Times. Check-out the equation above the headline!

Gates’ Measures of Effective Teaching Study: More Value-Added Madness is by Justin Baeder at Ed Week.

Student Test Score Based Measures of Teacher Effectiveness Won’t Improve NJ Schools is an excellent article on the problems of Value Added Assessment

‘Value-added’ teacher evaluations: L.A. Unified tackles a tough formula is from The Los Angeles Times.

Education writers from throughout the United States recently met in New Orleans, and I read their tweets about the conference. I was particularly interested in the session on the value-added approach to teacher evaluation, and found some excellent resources.

Douglas Harris is from the University of Wisconsin, and has written a book titled Value-Added Measures in Education What Every Educator Needs to Know. He spoke at the conference, and I’ll include one related tweet a little later. Here are links to two pieces he’s written:

Not by “Value-Added” Alone

Value-Added and Other Measures of Teacher Quality: Policy Uses and Policy Validity

Matthew Nathan quoted Harris in tweet:

It’s like publishing 10 politicians names as corrupt when you know the data tells you 6 of 10 are not

Student Test Scores: An Inaccurate Way to Judge Teachers is from Fair Test.

Mathematical Intimidation: Driven by the Data is by John Ewing, president of Math For America. He provides a good critique of value-added assessment. Here’s an excerpt:

Whether naïfs or experts, mathematicians need to confront people who misuse their subject to intimidate others into accepting conclusions simply
because they are based on some mathematics. Unlike many policy makers, mathematicians are not bamboozled by the theory behind VAM, and they
need to speak out forcefully. Mathematical models have limitations. They do not by themselves convey authority for their conclusions. They are tools, not magic. And using the mathematics to intimidate—to preempt debate about the goals of education and measures of success—is harmful not only to
education but to mathematics itself.

Value-Added Evaluation & Those Pesky Collateralized Debt Obligations by Karl Hess appeared in Education Week. The comments are a “must-read,” too.

An excellent post appeared in The Washington Post’s “The Answer Sheet” titled NY regent: Why we shouldn’t link teacher evaluation to test scores. Here is the introduction to the post:

was written by Roger Tilles, a member of the New York State Board of Regents, which supervises all educational activities within the state. post refers to action taken on Monday by the board, which adopted regulations for a teacher and principal performance evaluation system in which 20 to 40 percent of the evaluation is linked to student standardized test scores.

The letter from assessment experts the N.Y. Regents ignored is from The Washington Post.

On False Dichotomies and Warped Reformy Logic is from School Finance 101.

Value-Added In Teacher Evaluations: Built To Fail comes from The Shanker Blog.

VAM Nauseum: Bleeding the Patient is a post by David B. Cohen.

Firing Line: The Grand Coalition Against Teachers comes from Dissent Magazine.

Heather Hill: Value-Added Assessment 101 is a good short video on Value Added Assessment.

Linda Darling-Hammond’s Getting teacher evaluation right at The Answer Sheet may be THE piece on teacher evaluation.

Christie misses the mark on grading teachers, author says is from The Star-Ledger in New Jersey.

Principals rebel against ‘value-added’ evaluation is from The Washington Post.

Turning the Tables: VAM on Trial is by David B. Cohen.

When The Legend Becomes Fact, Print The Fact Sheet is from The Shanker Blog.

What Value-Added Research Does And Does Not Show is by Matthew Di Carlo at The Shanker Blog.

‘Rigor mortis ’ in teacher evaluation systems

Value-Added Evaluation Hurts Teaching is a very important commentary written by Linda Darling-Hammond for Education Week.

Teacher: I dare you to measure my ‘value’ is from The Washington Post.

Hot Off The Press! The Best Piece Yet Published On Teacher Evaluation

Grant Wiggins’ Critique Of Value-Added Measurement To Assess Teachers

Guest Post: Here’s What Was Missing From The Wall Street Journal’s Column On Teacher Evaluation

The Problem with Value-Added Measurement is by Gary Rubinstein.

John Thompson’s Book Review: “VAM in Education” — Who has the Burden of Proof? appeared in Education Week.

Two More Studies Show The Flaws Behind Using “Value-Added Measures” To Assess Teacher — Is Gates Foundation Listening?

Value-Added, For The Record is from The Shanker Blog.

How Do Value-Added Indicators Compare to Other Measures of Teacher Effectiveness? is by Douglas Harris.

The fundamental flaws of ‘value added’ teacher evaluation is from the Washington Post.

More Evidence Showing The Dangers Of Using High-Stakes Testing For Teacher Evaluation

Practical Assessment, Research and Evaluation is a new study raising questions about the use of Value-Added Measurement.

Ten Reasons Value-Added Measures Are a Bad Idea is by John Spencer.

Now We Know Why Obama Doesn’t Understand VAM is by Mercedes Schneider.

What Are Error Rates for Classifying Teacher and School Performance Using Value-Added Models? is from American Educational Research Association.

Will value-added measurement survive the courts? is from The Hechinger Ed blog.

Proposal to refine state’s “value-added” formula elicits concerns is from Gotham Schools.

Value-Added Measures (VAM) is from Scott McLeod.

Thompson: False Positives & Value-Added Evaluation is from John Thompson.

Connecting test scores to teacher evaluations: Why not? is from Dangerously Irrelevant.

The Carnegie Knowledge Network has a series of very useful “briefs” on Value-Added Measurement.

Here’s a short video on Twitter by Arthur Goldstein showing Charlotte Danielson, the present “guru” of teacher evaluation for many districts, saying that student test results should not be used in teacher evaluations:

E.D. Hirsch, Jr. comes out against Value Added Assessment for teachers, at least for those who teach language arts.

Reliability and Validity of Inferences About Teachers Based on Student Test Scores by Edward H. Haertel from Stanford University was published by The Education Testing Service (ETS). Though I’ve only had a chance to skim it, it appears to be an extraordinary critique of the use of Value Added Measures in teacher evaluation.

Case study: The false promise of value-added teacher assessment is from The Washington Post.

The Value Added & Growth Score Train Wreck is Here is from School Finance 101.

Quote Of The Day: “Do student test scores provide solid basis to evaluate teachers?”

“Small Typo” In D.C. Teacher Evaluation Illustrate Bigger Problem With VAM

AFT’s Weingarten Backtracks on Using Value-Added Measures for Evaluations is from Education Week and Breaking News: Weingarten Rejects VAM! is from Diane Ravitch’s blog.

The U.S. Department of Education came out with a new study on Value Added Measurements. Here are some tweets about it:

Comparing Oak Trees’ “Apples to Apples,” by Stanford’s Edward Haertel is from VAMBoozled.

Another Nail In VAM’s Coffin?

One of many nails in the VAM coffin…. is from Better Living Through Mathematics.

Here is a VAM mathematical formula from Florida.

The Houston teachers union has sued over the district’s use of Value-Added Measurement in teacher evaluations. You can read about it in Ed Week here and also watch this video of their news conference:

And here’s a tweet providing further info:

Important New Report Questions VAM

Are Researchers Who Helped Popularize VAM Having Second Thoughts?

A Quick Look At The ASA Statement On Value-Added is from The Shanker Blog.

Do Evaluations Penalize Teachers of Needy Students? is from Ed Week.

Education Is Not ‘Moneyball’: Why Teachers Can’t Trust Value-Added Evaluations Yet is an excellent Ed Week piece by William Eger.

Value-Added True Believers Should Listen to Principals is by John Thompson.

Wash. Post Article Wonders If Test Scores Might Not Accurately Evaluate Teachers — Ya’ Think?

High-achieving teacher sues state over evaluation labeling her ‘ineffective’ is from The Washington Post.

A Botched Study Raises Bigger Questions is from NPR.

Gates Scholar, Tom Kane, Continues the Fight to Prove He Is Right is by John Thompson.

Feedback, as always, is welcome. What do you think of the value-added approach? What do you think are the best ways to evaluate teacher effectiveness?

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

10 Comments

  1. Pingback: Don’t Take My Word For It #2: Value-Added and the LA Times | The Line

  2. Interested readers might also check out TESOL Board President Brock Brady’s recent blog post titled “Why We Shouldn’t Use Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers,” available here: http://blogs.tesol.org/the_tesol_blog_spot/

  3. Pingback: Why Indiana DOE’s Top Legislative Priority This Year is Wrong | My Student Teaching Year

  4. This great little video provides a simple-to-understand explanation of why value added will never be a fair way to assess teachers.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uONqxysWEk8

  5. At a time when the issue of teacher performance is a hot issue on both sides of the Atlantic, it is important to recognise that the relationship between teaching and learning is complex and will probably never be measurable through the use of simple formulae.
    However, at the same time, the performance management of teachers does need to be backed up with sound evidence, collected appropriately and supported by sound arguments.
    It surprises many in the UK that in the US teachers can be fired on the basis of their pupils’ test results, but what is more surprising is that educationalists have not mounted a more rigorous counter argument, or led the way to showing how teacher appraisal might be carried out more objectively.
    The fault in the arguments that teacher performance equals pupils’ test scores lies in the failure to find a constant, that is, it assumes that all groups of pupils start off the same. One could make comparisons between two groups of learners if their starting points were identical, but if not then the task is much more complex.
    In the UK there is currently a review of the body that inspects schools – Ofsted. There has been a consultation process about this – important because there is now a greater emphasis given to ‘The Importance of Teaching’ – the title of a new Education Bill.
    One argument that I have offered is that we must separate ‘provision’ i.e. what a school provides, from ‘outcomes’, i.e. what pupils gain from the process. The quality of each of these should be judged separately using agreed criteria, before the issue of cause and effect is examined.
    There is much more that can be said about this, but the point is that a proper scientific debate needs to take place in order that politicians cannot get away with making simplistic comments that can inappropriately affect the careers of many good teachers. The teaching profession needs to take a lead on this rather than complain at the injustice that can take place.
    I have written about these issues in the broader context of how we use data to measure the performance of pupils, teachers and schools. This work can be examined at http://www.mikebostock.wordpress.com
    Comments on any of these thoughts are welcomed.

  6. Pingback: Mixing Business and Pleasure: A Conversation About Teacher Evaluation « Using Data for Meaningful Change

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