Taken by the Numbers: How Value-Added Measures Distort Our View of Teachers' Work.

Taken by the Numbers: How Value-Added Measures Distort Our View of Teachers' Work.

Robert William Smith (University of North Carolina Wilmington, USA) and Scott Imig (University of Newcastle, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0204-3.ch030
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A debate is currently being waged across the United States over the value of teacher experience and education. Multiple states have introduced new methods of calculating teacher pay based on how much growth has occurred on students' standardized test scores. Survey results from 300 principals illustrate the value of teacher experience and education, questioning the oversimplified view of teacher performance represented only by value-added measures (VAM). Legislators and some VAM researchers have been captivated by the idea of a single metric of teacher effectiveness, viewing VAM as a silver bullet for school reform. However, other than ranking teachers, there is little evidence that VAM supports teacher or school development. Alternative approaches to VAM's focus on individual teacher performance are considered.
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Think about any profession and ask yourself if you believe experience and education add value to its practitioners. Certainly the reflexive and emphatic response is yes. Experience yields a practical knowledge base upon which professionals draw, while advanced education, ideally, offers professionals the newest research and theory and an opportunity to reflect on their experience. For teachers, professionals historically tied to salary schedules, experience and education have been acknowledged and rewarded with increased pay. However, in states across the US, the long-held practice of rewarding experience and advanced education for teachers is being questioned. In states, salary schedules are being rewritten to remove or modify longevity and education incentives and to compensate teachers based on their impact on student growth on standardized tests. While few would disagree with the premise that teachers should be held accountable for the value they add in classrooms, current debates about value are focused squarely on standardized test results. This redefinition of teacher value has created a seemingly narrow view of the work of teachers. This chapter presents literature on the changing paradigm in teacher pay, historic research efforts to understand what constitutes teacher effectiveness, and a look at the literature surrounding value-added modeling (VAM). In addition, this chapter reports findings from a research study of nearly 300 principals in North Carolina that attempted to identify the broader value added by teachers gaining years of experience and education. Finally, the authors offer suggestions for teacher compensation plans.

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