Value-Added Data Adds Value

We should offer every American family the good school promise–access to at least one effective school where most students are on grade level and make at least a year of progress.  We should offer every American student best efforts at giving them a teacher that gives them a shot at making at least a one year gain.
In an EdWeek OpEd, The Brookings Brown Center Task Group on Teacher Quality makes the case:

The reality is far different from what the evaluation systems suggest. We know from a large body of empirical research that teachers differ dramatically from one another in effectiveness. That today’s evaluation systems fail to recognize these differences means that the many important human-resource decisions are not as efficient or fair as they could be if they incorporated data that meaningfully differentiated among teachers.

And the thoughtful conclusion:

Teaching is a complex task, and value-added captures only a portion of the impact of differences in teacher effectiveness. Thus, high-stakes decisions based on value-added measures of teacher performance will be imperfect. We do not advocate using value-added measures alone when making decisions about hiring, firing, tenure, compensation, placement, or teacher development, but surely value-added information ought to be in the mix given the empirical evidence that it predicts more about what students will learn from the teachers to whom they are assigned than any other source of information.

This is an important rearview mirror contribution.  The most important development of the decade to come–content embedded assessment–will solve this problem by making every classroom a source of continuous feedback.  The flood of achievement data to come will put to bed the silly argument of whether we should use data in teacher evaluations.  Now on the design task incorporating all the new data into smart instructional feedback loops that steer personal digital learning.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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