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ERIC Number: ED535870
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Dec
Pages: 44
Abstractor: ERIC
When the Stakes Are High, Can We Rely on Value-Added? Exploring the Use of Value-Added Models to Inform Teacher Workforce Decisions
Goldhaber, Dan
Center for American Progress
The formula is simple: Highly effective teachers equal student academic success. Yet, the physics of American education is anything but. Thus, the question facing education reformers is how can teacher effectiveness be accurately measured in order to improve the teacher workforce? Given the demand for objective, quantitative measures of teacher performance and the shortcomings of many existing evaluation systems, it is not surprising that a number of districts and states have begun to utilize so called value-added models, or VAMs, to evaluate teachers. Based on the notion that gains in student test scores can be attributed to their teachers, VAMs are designed to measure the impact of individual teachers on student achievement, isolating their contribution to student learning from other factors (such as family background or class size in the early grades) that also influence student achievement. The use of VAMs is highly controversial and tends to center, at least rhetorically around the notion that VAM measures of teachers will lead to perverse incentives or the misclassification of teachers. The author would argue, however, that at least some of the policy debate on this issue masks the more fundamental issue of whether "any" system ought to differentiate teachers and act upon differences. VAMs can be the honest broker when it comes to teacher-performance evaluation, ensuring that any performance evaluation system recognizes that teachers aren't widgets when it comes to helping students learn. Yet, having said that, VAM is often treated as if it is the magical elixir for all that ails the teacher workforce. There are good reasons to believe this is not the case. Thus, the author also recommends that school systems implement a performance evaluation infrastructure that builds confidence in performance measures and provides teachers with timely feedback. (Contains 51 endnotes.)
Center for American Progress. 1333 H Street NW 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-682-1611; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Authoring Institution: Center for American Progress