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Value-Added Measures in Education: What Every Educator Needs to Know

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1612500003
ISBN-10: 1612500005
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Editorial Reviews

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Public debate rages over the complicated issues of high-stakes testing, school accountability, and merit pay. In Value-Added Measures in Education, Doug Harris offers a detailed, reasoned, and accessible explanation of what standardized test scores can truly measure and how we can design educational accountability systems that improve teaching and learning. A much-needed voice in this rancorous conversation! --Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director, American Association of School Administrators

Value-Added Measures in Education offers an important paradigm shift in our understanding of how federally mandated test data should be used. Currently test data is used to compare different cohorts of students to one another. Harris shows that we will be able to meet students needs better if we place our focus on individual students learning year to year. --Christine A. Erickson, Elementary Teacher, Stoughton Area School District, Stoughton, Wisconsin

In Value-Added Measures in Education, Doug Harris discusses one of the promising and undoubtedly most controversial measures of teacher effectiveness available today. It is also among the most complex and difficult to understand. I can t tell you how many times I ve said to myself and others, I really wish someone would just explain this stuff in one place. Harris s effort to bring this technical discussion out of stuffy university halls filled with statisticians and economists, to those directly responsible for improving our schools is not merely welcome, it is way overdue. --from the foreword by Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers

Doug Harris s book provides a clear explanation of value-added models and their potential value in improving education for the nation s children. While neither advocates nor critics of value-added models will find that the book totally supports their position, members of both camps will learn a great deal from it. Value-Added Measures in Education provides thoughtful, constructive advice about a host of practical issues that confront educators who implement this approach to accountability. The recommendations that conclude the book reflect the best available research knowledge and, most important, are sensible and actionable. --Richard J. Murnane, Thompson Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education

From the Back Cover

In Value-Added Measures in Education, economist and education researcher Douglas N. Harris takes on one of the most hotly debated topics in education. Drawing on his extensive work with schools and districts, he sets out to help educators and policy makers understand this innovative approach to assessment. Written in straightforward language and illustrated with actual student achievement data, this essential volume shows how value-added measurement can help schools make better use of their data and discusses the strengths and limitations of this approach.

“Public debate rages over the complicated issues of high-stakes testing, school accountability, and merit pay. In Value-Added Measures in Education, Doug Harris offers a detailed, reasoned, and accessible explanation of what standardized test scores can truly measure and how we can design educational accountability systems that improve teaching and learning. A much-needed voice in this rancorous conversation!” — Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, American Association of School Administrators

Value-Added Measures in Education offers an important paradigm shift in our understanding of how federally mandated test data should be used. Currently test data is used to compare different cohorts of students to one another. Harris shows that we will be able to meet students’ needs better if we place our focus on individual students’ learning year to year.” — Christine A. Erickson, elementary teacher, Stoughton Area School District, Stoughton, Wisconsin

“Doug Harris’s book provides a clear explanation of value-added models and their potential value in improving education for the nation’s children. While neither advocates nor critics of value-added models will find that the book totally supports their position, members of both camps will learn a great deal from it. Value-Added Measures in Education provides thoughtful, constructive advice about a host of practical issues that confront educators who implement this approach to accountability. The recommendations that conclude the book reflect the best available research knowledge and, most important, are sensible and actionable.” — Richard J. Murnane, Thompson Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“Value-added measurement is at the heart of today’s efforts to reform accountability, teacher evaluation, and teacher pay. Yet those responsible for these systems are often unsure of the practical challenges or potential pitfalls. Doug Harris, one of the nation’s leading authorities on value-added, has rendered a signal service in penning this accessible, practical ‘user’s manual.’ Value-Added Measures in Education is essential reading for district leaders, policy makers, reformers, and educators.” — Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy studies, American Enterprise Institute

Douglas N. Harris is associate professor of educational policy and public affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Education Press (January 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612500005
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612500003
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 8.8 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #442,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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There is a lot to like in this book. Douglas Harris does a nice job of describing all of the statisitical cautions associated with using student achievement data for the purposes of evaluating schools and teachers. Great information in and of itself. However, professor Harris' analysis is incomplete. Though he rightfully argues for "advanced value-added" methods of accountability which adjust achievement scores for uncontrollable variables, he neglects the one uncontrollable variable that produces the most variation in student achievement - cognitive ability. For large groups of students of about the same age, say all fifth graders in a state, more than half of the variation observed in achievement test scores is due to differences in cognitive ability. While other variables, such as quality of classroom instruction and home support play important roles in achievement variation, fair comparisons among schools and teachers require that differences in cognitive ability be accounted for and systematically factored out of value-added calculations.

To date, none of the value-added accountbility schemes employed in the United States, including all of the examples described by Professor Harris in his book, have applied controls for cognitive ability thus rendering all of them problematic for high stakes decision-making - such as school sanctions or teacher tenure, compensation, or continued employment decisions.

Value-added measures of schools and teachers are potentially very valuble accountability tools. But basic designs must capture and control all of the most relevent factors affecting student achievement. This book does a good job of informing the design of robust value-added measures. With specific guidance related to controlling for cognitive ability, it could be great.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Value-added measures in education: What every educator needs to know by Douglas N. Harris, Harris in his books aims to inform educators what value added measures are as well as how value-added measures can be use to improve teaching and learning. Through out the entire book, Harris explains value added measure by providing examples or analogies that can help explain further the concepts. Harris in his book starts first with discussing the cardinal rule and uses this rule as his basis throughout the whole book. Besides Harris using examples and the cardinal rule to explain value added measure, Harris divides his book into three sections.

The first section include chapter one to chapter four. These chapters seeks to answer the question how value added measures were created. Chapter one seeks to answer this question by providing background information about the issues of educator performance and accountability. Chapter two discusses the misused of tests and explains four types of test reporting methods. Additionally, in this chapter Harris explains the idea that test scores are snapshots of a measurement. In this chapter he concludes by saying that there should be a new way in looking at the achievement data rather than focusing only on the snapshot of a measure. Chapter three discusses the idea of how to measure student growth. In this chapter, Harris explains three types of measurement of growth. The three types of measurement growth are: student growth, cohort to cohort growth, and growth to proficiency. In explaining these three measurements, Harris uses one school district data as well as using graphs to illustrate and explain the difference between the three types of measurement growth. Chapter four introduces value added and the factors that create value added.
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Format: Paperback
The concept behind 'Value-Added Measures of Education Performance' is quite simple - most education testing does not account for the fact that student outcomes are produced by more than just schools and a pupil's current teacher(s). Thus, the fail to hold people accountable for what they CAN control. Thus, author Harris believes that value-added measures, the simplest being growth, are needed.

However, he also contends that additional evaluation input is needed - to provide information to help teachers improve. Unfortunately, he then gets wrapped up in the topic of possible differences in school resources - this becomes a swamp impossible to extricate oneself from. Better to simply follow the Coleman Report findings - that school resources, including the manner in which teacher services are purchased - according to experience and amount of education credits, make very little or no difference. Another self-created problem is his excessive concern over random measurement errors in value-added testing - he forgets that such random errors would go in both directions and cancel each other out over a classroom - especially when a teacher is so assessed over several years. He also forgets that using standard statistical tests of significance should avoid making inappropriate conclusions in such situations. The 'good news' is that he then gets back on track by also pointing out that value-added techniques could be used to evaluate school programs.
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Format: Paperback
The concept behind 'Value-Added Measures of Education Performance' is quite simple - most education testing does not account for the fact that student outcomes are produced by more than just schools and a pupil's current teacher(s). Thus, the fail to hold people accountable for what they CAN control. Thus, author Harris believes that value-added measures, the simplest being growth, are needed.

However, he also contends that additional evaluation input is needed - to provide information to help teachers improve. Unfortunately, he then gets wrapped up in the topic of possible differences in school resources - this becomes a swamp impossible to extricate oneself from. Better to simply follow the Coleman Report findings - that school resources, including the manner in which teacher services are purchased - according to experience and amount of education credits, make very little or no difference. Another self-created problem is his excessive concern over random measurement errors in value-added testing - he forgets that such random errors would go in both directions and cancel each other out over a classroom - especially when a teacher is so assessed over several years. He also forgets that using standard statistical tests of significance should avoid making inappropriate conclusions in such situations. The 'good news' is that he then gets back on track by also pointing out that value-added techniques could be used to evaluate school programs.
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