Tests measure what students know. Like a Polaroid, they give a snapshot of knowledge frozen at one moment in time. But what if you could measure how much a child learns over the course of a school year? What if you could gauge what a school actually adds to a child’s learning experience?
In Ohio, you can. This year’s district and school report cards, which will be released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Education, for the first time will include a measurement known as value-added. The revolutionary formula, designed more than two decades ago by a homespun statistical guru from the rolling hills of eastern Tennessee, has rocked the education world. Put simply, value-added tracks whether a year’s worth of learning is actually happening in the course of a school year — regardless of whether a child passes a test at the end of that year.