‘Value Added’ Measures at Secondary Level Questioned

Stephanie Sawchuck:

Academic tracking in secondary education appears to confound an increasingly common method for gauging differences in teacher quality, according to two recently released studies.
Failing to account for how students are sorted into more- or less-rigorous classes–as well as the effect different tracks have on student learning–can lead to biased “value added” estimates of middle and high school teachers’ ability to boost their students’ standardized-test scores, the papers conclude.
“I think it suggests that we’re making even more errors than we need to–and probably pretty large errors–when we’re applying value-added to the middle school level,” said Douglas N. Harris, an associate professor of economics at Tulane University in New Orleans, whose study examines the application of a value-added approach to middle school math scores.