Part 1, Chapter 6: Value-Added Measures
While Chapter Five pointed out some inconsistencies and common concerns from educators with traditional merit pay systems utilized in the business world, most educators are in favor of some form of accountability when it comes to measuring student growth. Evaluation systems typically include some type of value-added measure as part of their holistic teacher evaluation process. Many states mandate that a percentage of a teacher’s final evaluation rating include a value-added measure.
Since so many systems of monitoring teacher progress must be tied to student progress, there has been much discussion on the best way to bring these two together. While evaluators can observe teacher and student traits that are classified as effective, student learning must be documented. This is usually done with student test scores, although educators are aware that many external factors affect these scores. The most effective evaluation systems are those that measure both teacher traits and student results. This is summarized well by Phi Delta Kappan:
These tools are most effective when embedded in systems that support evaluation expertise and well- grounded decisions, by ensuring that evaluators are trained, evaluation and feedback are frequent, mentoring and professional development are available, and procedures are in place to support due process. (Darling-Hammond, Amrein-Beardsley, Haertel, & Rothstein, 2012)
Some states or school districts may refer to these measures as growth model data. For purposes of this book, we will use the more all-encompassing term of value-added measure, as they both enable a district to include some type of student growth measure as data contributing to the teacher’s final rating. As of 2015, 40 states required that a portion of a teacher’s final rating include objective data of student growth as part of the teacher’s final score to be reported to their state departments of education (USDOE, 2015).
Value-added measures are intended to increase teacher accountability and allow teacher influence and effectiveness to be integrated into the teacher’s final evaluation rating. These measures may assist in leveling the playing field in school accountability models by accounting for differences among individual schools and student populations. Nonetheless, they do not eliminate accountability and still require schools to document adequate student growth from year to year, which is critical to school improvement. This is separate from the observation piece of the evaluation process, and is usually tied to standardized or locally created student test scores. Further research supports alignment of value-added measures to classroom observation criteria to better develop instructional strategies and thus enhance student progress (Kane, Taylor, & Wooten, as cited in Buddin & Croft, 2014, p. 4).
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