First a few quotes from the story. Arne Duncan on the LA Times teacher assessment project:
Education Secretary Arne Duncan weighed in to support the newspaper’s work, calling it an exercise in healthy transparency. In a speech last week, though, he qualified that support, noting that he had never released to news media similar information on teachers when he was the Chicago schools superintendent.
On The Los Angeles Times’s publication of the teacher data, he added, “I don’t advocate that approach for other districts.”
Arne? Yes or no?
About value-added itself:
William L. Sanders, a senior research manager for a North Carolina company, SAS, that does value-added estimates for districts in North Carolina, Tennessee and other states, said that “if you use rigorous, robust methods and surround them with safeguards, you can reliably distinguish highly effective teachers from average teachers and from ineffective teachers.”
But when the method is used to evaluate individual teachers, many factors can lead to inaccuracies.
- For example, two analysts might rank teachers in a district differently if one analyst took into account certain student characteristics, like which students were eligible for free lunch, and the other did not.
- Millions of students change classes or schools each year, so teachers can be evaluated on the performance of students they have taught only briefly, after students’ records were linked to them in the fall.
- In many schools, students receive instruction from multiple teachers, or from after-school tutors, making it difficult to attribute learning gains to a specific instructor. Another problem is known as the ceiling effect.
- Advanced students can score so highly one year that standardized state tests are not sensitive enough to measure their learning gains a year later.
- Advocates of the value-added model to evaluate teachers justify their position by claiming that is how business works. Yet all prospectuses of mutual funds warn in bold letters that past performance is no guarantee of future results.
- Such data, combined with effective in-class observation of teaching skills, dramatically increases our understanding of how well teachers and schools help to advance students’ learning. The fact that it is not a perfect system should not disqualify it from use; no evaluation system in any profession is perfect.
- The value-added method to grade teachers sounds fantastic! Now how about applying it to school administrators themselves, highly paid consultants brought in for “professional development” and expensive, corporation-developed textbooks?
- Regarding the usefulness of value-added scores for teachers, why shouldn’t parents be given the opportunity to enroll their children for individual teachers, not just schools, using such a tool?