A "Value Added" Evaluation

By Day, Adrienne | Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring 2015 | Go to article overview

A "Value Added" Evaluation


Day, Adrienne, Stanford Social Innovation Review


EDUCATION

sing students' test scores to assess the efficacy of their teachers- a method known as the "value added" (VA) approach-has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. It has also become increasingly controversial. Critics suggest that it's neither fair nor accurate to base teacher evaluation on the performance of students who bring widely varying skill levels to a classroom. They also question whether having a high-VA teacher is pertinent to students' long-term wellbeing. In a pair of linked papers, three researchers-Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman, and Jonah E. Rockoff-investigate both of those criticisms.

In the first paper, the researchers seek to determine whether the VA method captures the true effect that teachers have on students. To test the possibility that high-VA teachers benefit from having better students in their classroom, the research team developed a way to measure the discrete effects that teacher quality and student quality have on test scores. The researchers found that the VA method does correctly adjust for difference among students.

In the second paper the research team tackles the other issue raised by critics: Does higher teacher quality (as measured by VA) have a positive long-term impact on students' outcomes in adulthood? Or do high VA scores for teachers simply reflect their ability to help students do well on tests? To investigate that question, the researchers used data from a large school district on students who were in grades 3 through 8 between 1989 and 2009. They then linked those data with data from tax records for the years 1996 to 2011. They were able to align about 90 percent of the school data with corresponding tax data, and that combined data set allowed them to track about one million children from elementary school to early adulthood (age 28).

The researchers used two research methods to estimate the long-term effect of teacher quality. In one method, they looked at cross-sectional comparisons between classrooms. In the other, they focused on the effects of teacher turnover. (What happens, for example, when a high-quality teacher is replaced by a lower-quality teacher?) With both approaches, they found that high-VA teachers had a measurable effect on variables such as lifetime earnings, college attendance, and teenage birth rates. …

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A "Value Added" Evaluation
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