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Would Accountability Based on Teacher Value Added Be Smart Policy? An Examination of the Statistical Properties and Policy Alternatives

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  • Douglas N. Harris

    () (Educational Policy Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison)

Abstract

Annual student testing may make it possible to measure the contributions to student achievement made by individual teachers. But would these “teacher value-added” measures help to improve student achievement? I consider the statistical validity, purposes, and costs of teacher value-added policies. Many of the key assumptions of teacher value added are rejected by empirical evidence. However, the assumption violations may not be severe, and value-added measures still seem to contain useful information. I also compare teacher value-added accountability with three main policy alternatives: teacher credentials, school value-added accountability, and formative uses of test data. I argue that using teacher value-added measures is likely to increase student achievement more efficiently than a teacher credentials-only strategy but may not be the most cost-effective policy overall. Resolving this issue will require a new research and policy agenda that goes beyond analysis of assumptions and statistical properties and focuses on the effects of actual policy alternatives. © 2009 American Education Finance Association

Suggested Citation

  • Douglas N. Harris, 2009. "Would Accountability Based on Teacher Value Added Be Smart Policy? An Examination of the Statistical Properties and Policy Alternatives," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 4(4), pages 319-350, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:edfpol:v:4:y:2009:i:4:p:319-350
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    File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/edfp.2009.4.4.319
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    Cited by:

    1. Cook, Jason B. & Mansfield, Richard K., 2016. "Task-specific experience and task-specific talent: Decomposing the productivity of high school teachers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 51-72.
    2. Guillermo Montes, 2012. "Using Artificial Societies to Understand the Impact of Teacher Student Match on Academic Performance: The Case of Same Race Effects," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 15(4), pages 1-8.
    3. Ben Ost, 2014. "How Do Teachers Improve? The Relative Importance of Specific and General Human Capital," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 127-151, April.
    4. Condie, Scott & Lefgren, Lars & Sims, David, 2014. "Teacher heterogeneity, value-added and education policy," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 76-92.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    teacher value added; value-added assessment; accountability; education policy;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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