But now the focus is on “value-added ratings,” which estimate a teacher’s effectiveness based on students’ standardized test scores. In August of this year, the Los Angeles Times released value-added ratings for L.A.U.S.D. elementary school teachers.
The conclusions the Times draws are striking. Here are some highlights:
- “Highly effective teachers routinely propel students from below grade level to advanced in a single year.”
- “Contrary to popular belief, the best teachers were not concentrated in schools in the most affluent neighborhoods, nor were the weakest instructors bunched in poor areas…. The quality of instruction typically varied far more within a school than between schools.”
- “Although teachers are paid more for experience, education and training, none of this had much bearing on whether they improved their students’ performance.”
The Times quickly points out that other measures must be taken into account when evaluating teachers, but that “value-added analysis offers the closest thing available to an objective assessment of a teacher’s performance.” It could also help demystify what qualities separate effective from ineffective teachers.
Teachers and teachers’ unions quickly criticized the Times for releasing the numbers. Some said standardized tests are inaccurate measures of student learning. Some were disappointed by their results. Many wondered why they hadn’t seen the data before.
Also in August, Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, called for all states and school districts to release teacher’s scores, saying, “The truth is always hard to swallow, but it can only make us better, stronger and smarter.” President Obama has similarly called for greater accountability for America’s teachers.
The L.A.U.S.D. is currently negotiating with the Teachers’ Union to determine how much of a role value-added ratings will play in teachers’ performance reviews. District officials see the numbers as providing much-needed objective records of teacher performance, and they’d like the ratings to account for at least 30% of reviews.
We at the CC! National Office wonder what a greater focus on value-added ratings might mean for character education. Character building takes time, but it adds to student achievement by improving school climate. If teachers end up sacrificing character education in order to “teach to the test,” how will students fare in the long run? Will school climate suffer? Will we educate people in mind but not morals and thus, as Theodore Roosevelt said, “educate menaces to society?”
What do you think? What is the value of value-added? Should these ratings play a larger or smaller role in teacher evaluations? What aspects of your teaching don’t get represented in value-added ratings?
Add your comment below.