The Value Added by LA Teachers

Elena Silva

There’s already plenty of chatter about Sunday’s LA Times article on the value-added scores of LAUSD teachers, and certainly more to come (comments blowing up here). With access to seven years of math and English scores for hundreds of thousands of 3rd through 5th grade students (under California Public Records Act), the Times hired RAND researcher Richard Buddin to conduct a value-added analysis on LAUSD teachers. Over the next few weeks, and likely beyond that, the Times promises to publish the findings of this analysis in articles and via a full database. For thousands of LAUSD teachers, this means they should expect to see their names and scores in their morning paper. For parents and the rest of the public, it means they will have more information about public school teachers’ performance than ever before.

6 thoughts on “The Value Added by LA Teachers”

  1. It promises to be an interesting read, especially to the expected comments of the politicians, journalists and public who will wildly misunderstand, misinterpret, and be generally clueless as to what the data actually says, and most importantly, what it does not say.

  2. From a side-linked article, and on the statistical effects of the limited data that the (very competent) researcher was given:
    “Now here’s the fun, and most problematic part:
    Buddin finds that black teachers have lower value-added scores for both ELA and MATH. Further, these are some of the largest negative effects in the second level analysis – especially for MATH. The interpretation here (for parent readers of the LA Times web site) is that having a black teacher for math is worse than having a novice teacher. In fact, it’s the worst possible thing! Having a black teacher for ELA is comparable to having a novice teacher.
    Buddin also finds that having more black students in your class is negatively associated with teacher’s value-added scores, but writes off the effect as small. Teachers of black students in LA are simply worse? There is NO discussion of the potentially significant overlap between black teachers, novice teachers and serving black students, concentrated in black schools (as addressed by Hanushek and Rivken in link above).”
    From Bruce Baker on

  3. My previous comment notwithstanding, it is a very interesting read, as Larry has pointed out. Just to be taken with a grain of salt, and not necessarily used as a way to fire or demote professionals without a lot more controls.

  4. Does anybody know how, or if, the value added factors in administrator quality – both at the school and at central administration.

  5. @barb s, I think that’s the $64K question, and I don’t think the investigation (and certainly not the reporting) adequately focused on those factors (when in fact the buck should stop with those responsible for the policies and decisions that resulted in the assignment and placement practices that the article decries). I’m a huge proponent of data and transparency, but I’m disappointed that the teachers-under-the-klieg-lights approach taken by the LA Times (and the predictable blowback) has squandered an opportunity for considered discussion of a serious issue.

  6. I should simply refer to W Edwards Deming “Out of Crisis” where he makes clear that problems with institutions are not problems with individuals but systemic problems with the institution itself, and therefore problems caused by poor management decisions (decision makers).
    What is going on now, instead of understanding and solving lack of quality of schools and poor educational results by looking systemically, is to put the sole blame for lack of quality output (educated students) on “poor quality” teachers, based on the meritless VAA ideas.

Comments are closed.