Harvard Educational Review
  1. Summer 2013 Issue »

    Rethinking Teacher Evaluation

    A Conversation about Statistical Inferences and Value-Added Models

    KIMBERLEE CALLISTER EVERSON, ERIKA FEINAUER, and RICHARD R. SUDWEEKS
    In this article, the authors provide a methodological critique of the current standard of value-added modeling forwarded in educational policy contexts as a means of measuring teacher effectiveness. Conventional value-added estimates of teacher quality are attempts to determine to what degree a teacher would theoretically contribute, on average, to the test score gains of any student in the accountability population (i.e., district or state). Everson, Feinauer, and Sudweeks suggest an alternative statistical methodology, propensity score matching, which allows estimation of how well a teacher performs relative to teachers assigned comparable classes of students. This approach more closely fits the appropriate role of an accountability system: to estimate how well employees perform in the job to which they are actually assigned. It also has the benefit of requiring fewer statistical assumptions—assumptions that are frequently violated in value-added modeling. The authors conclude that this alternative method allows for more appropriate and policy-relevant inferences about the performance of teachers.

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    Kimberlee Callister Everson is a recent graduate of Brigham Young University’s educational inquiry, measurement, and evaluation doctoral program. Her research focuses on statistical and psychometric issues related to student growth and teacher evaluation. In particular, she studies quasi-experimental methods, value-added modeling, and teacher beliefs related to student outcomes-based accountability. Everson also has experience as a mathematics educator, focusing on statistics education and adult developmental mathematics.

    Erika Feinauer is an assistant professor in the department of teacher education at Brigham Young University’s David O. McKay School of Education. She researches the language and literacy development of young bilingual students as well as the role of ethnic identity formation for Latino youth. Her recent publications include “Cross-Language Transfer of Early Literacy Skills: An Examination of Young Learners in a Two-Way Bilingual Immersion Elementary School,” in Reading Psychology, and “Examining the Socio-Linguistic Context of Schools and Neighborhoods of Pre-Adolescent Latino Students: Implications for Ethnic Identity,” in the Journal of Language, Identity and Education. Feinauer’s research interests also include the identity development of in-service teachers as they relate to their work with language-minority students in their classrooms.

    Richard R. Sudweeks is a professor in the department of instructional psychology and technology in the David O. McKay School of Education at Brigham Young University, where he also serves as director of the interdepartmental educational inquiry, measurement, and evaluation doctoral program. He teaches courses in psychometrics and research design. His current research interests focus on longitudinal analysis of student achievement and the challenges associated with estimating teachers’ effects on the learning of their students.
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    Summer 2013 Issue

    Abstracts

    Leaving the Space Better Than You Found It Through Song
    Music, Diversity, and Mission in One Black Student Organization
    SHERRY L. DECKMAN
    A Gifted Education
    GRAHAM OLIVER
    The Importance of Still Teaching the iGeneration
    New Technologies and the Centrality of Pedagogy
    THOMAS M. PHILIP and ANTERO D. GARCIA
    For Colored Kids Who Committed Suicide, Our Outrage Isn’t Enough
    Queer Youth of Color, Bullying, and the Discursive Limits of Identity and Safety
    Eric Darnell Pritchard

    Book Notes

    Beyond Binaries in Education Research
    edited by Warren Midgley, Mark A. Tyler, Patrick Alan Danaher, and Alison Mander

    Educational Experiences of Hidden Homeless Teenagers Living Doubled-Up
    Ronald E. Hallett