Value Added Data

desks-592x332Sunday (6.16.13), a three-part series on value-added was launched by The Cleveland Plain Dealer and State Impact Ohio. It includes both articles and radio segments specific to value-added analysis as a measure of teacher effectiveness. Highlighted in the articles is a link to a database of teacher ratings, hosted by The Plain Dealer and the State Impact Ohio partnership.

Currently, Ohio laws governing the release of teacher records would apply to teacher value-added results. Thus, teacher level value-added information is subject to public records requests through ODE. Through The Plain Dealer and State Impact Ohio database, the general public can now access a teacher’s overall composite rating derived from two years of his/her results in grades 4-8 math and reading. These data reflect information for less than 1/3 of the math and reading teachers in,grades 4-8  in the State of Ohio.  Because Worthington was an early adopter of value added data, and partners with Battelle for Kids, our teachers are part of the 1/3 of teachers in Ohio and are featured in this data base.

Dr’s Jim Mahoney and Bobby Moore, from Battelle for Kids, wrote the following as a guide for school districts:  “Battelle for Kids was not aware these ratings would be published in this way, at this time.

NEWGRAPHICSTEMPLTEWhile Battelle for Kids (and Worthington Schools) does support the use of value-added information for school improvement and as one of several components of a multi-measures evaluation system, value-added should NOT be used in isolation to draw conclusions about a teacher’s effectiveness.

Multiple data points over time from multiple perspectives are crucial because teaching and learning and the evaluation of teaching and learning are complex.”

For a fuller explanation, my thoughts echo those of Dr. Mahoney below.

Dr. Jim Mahoney, Executive Director, Battelle for Kids wrote the following article on value added ratings which appeared in the April 15, 2012 “K-12” Talent Manager” blog hosted by Education Week.

There is a cartoon that often circulates in offices with the caption, “…the beatings will continue until morale improves.” It would be funnier in education circles if it weren’t quite so true. Recently, the New York City Education Department was forced to release individual teacher scores based upon student value-added results. Value-added analysis is a sophisticated school-improvement tool that measures student growth by comparing a student’s predicted academic growth with their actual performance. Value-added, along with other growth measures, are powerful because they level the playing field and measure the right thing—student academic progress. Students come to teachers each year with vastly different levels of achievement, and the teacher’s goal is to “add value” or growth. If we only measured achievement, why would any educator ever want to teach in a place with a disproportionate number of low-performing students? Battelle for Kids’ work with value-added, growth, and other measures of educator effectiveness in Ohio and other states over the past decade has given us unique insights into what works in classrooms and what doesn’t. We’ve seen firsthand that growth measures, in the hands of well-informed teachers and other leaders, are powerful levers to accelerate teaching and student learning. For example, two years after joining our Ohio Value-Added High Schools Initiative, Circleville High School achieved above expected student growth in five subjects, including Algebra II and English, which are critical college gateway courses.

Value-added information should not be used to name, blame, and shame; it should be a catalyst to uncover, discover, and recover. The idea that listing individual teacher scores in the newspaper will drive better results is akin to suggesting that the track coach can get better results by simply telling the kids to run faster. Multiple data points over time from multiple perspectives are crucial because teaching and learning and the evaluation of teaching and learning are complex. This does not mean teachers shouldn’t be held accountable.

What do teachers need besides new Common Core State Standards, new performance assessments, and accountability? SUPPORT. Along with data, educators must have the knowledge, resources, and skills necessary to apply them in the classroom. Educators grow through thoughtful, measured, and useful feedback over time that promotes autonomy, mastery, and creativity. This kind of feedback works best in a trusting environment that upholds high performance standards and clear accountability.

Some believe we can fire our way to excellence by dismissing low performers, or reward our way to excellence by simply paying high performers more money, and ignore the majority. It won’t work. We cannot forget about the vast majority of teachers—those who come to school each day, work hard, care about kids, and want to improve their practice. I became a teacher nearly 40 years ago for the same reason most teachers today decide to enter the profession—to make a difference for kids. If we aren’t thoughtful about our approach to teacher improvement, we risk killing the very seed corn of young people who will want to teach in the future. And, in so doing, we will create a new problem that is much worse than the one we are trying to solve.

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One Response to Value Added Data

  1. Stephanie Donaldson says:

    Individual teacher scores in the newspaper drives better results?!? With all of the challenges facing education today, this form of teacher “accountability” goes against precisely what Dr. Mahoney suggests adds value to student achievement – SUPPORT. Dr. Mahoney speaks to the kind of SUPPORT teachers need for classroom instruction; however, he omitted the 800 pound gorilla challenging education today; the role community and parental SUPPORT plays in adding value to student achievement.

    I’m just a parent; I can say what Dr. Mahoney is unable to, that raw data in the hands of not fully informed parents or community leaders is a recipe for destroying the very SUPPORT that grows student achievement – the SUPPORT of a positive home environment, life-learning mentoring and active parental SUPPORT. Not mentioned by Dr. Mahoney is how parents may or may not utilize value-added public records to potentially undermine teacher credibility. If teacher feedback works, “best in a trusting environment”, as Dr. Mahoney states, data minus the education of an informed parent base will almost certainly result in destroying the trust and SUPPORT necessary for student achievement.

    Teacher “scores” are student scores. Student scores are based upon how successful the teacher is at delivering content in a student-teacher environment in conjunction with the SUPPORT of the student-parent environment. Sometimes, at the end of exhausting every educational resource available; a SUPPORTIVE teacher-student-parent relationship packs the best added value for student achievement. Making public individual teacher scores on ONE point of data should be immediately dismissed by an educated and informed parent base that understands that they themselves would not want to be judged on their parenting skills based upon ONE glance.

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