Issues Relating to Value-Added Modeling

October 31, 2012

A special meeting of researchers and experts in the field of value-added modeling (VAM) was held in August 2012 sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The purpose of the meeting was the review the current state of the science in the field of VAM and the impact the method has had in it’s use in evaluating the effectiveness of teachers. The discussions ranged from the validity of value-added modeling, the impact differing high stakes tests have on the effectiveness of VAM, and how to incorporate VAM along with other teacher evaluations tools to better measure teachers impact on student’s learning. The meeting also looked at directions for future research in VAM to increases its value to educators.

There appeared to be little trepidation expressed with the statistical method itself, but significant concern was noted regarding the validity of the high stakes tests central to a VAM analysis. Another issue addressed by the attendees was the use of VAM in the evaluation of teachers. The transcript summary highlighted problems inherent in using only one measure, VAM, to evaluate teachers. To obtain a more accurate picture of a teacher’s effectiveness requires multiple measures to assure the evaluations fair and accurate for the purposes of setting salaries and for use in personnel actions.

A summary of the meeting is available for downloading on the IES web site and for baseball fans; the discussion of VAM and the analogy to baseball is worth the read.