Friday, January 2, 2009

What value is added?

Value added” is a new buzzword floating around the education bureaucracy, and it is at the heart of this article by Advocate reporter Will Sentell. The idea is that by tracking the careers of teaches from various educational backgrounds, the value that is added to the system by their experience can be measured.

Beware the bearer of statistics. This is a new concept that needs thorough vetting before it becomes the model for hiring teachers. The report says the study has “factored in” differences in demographics, attendance and previous student achievement, but what does that mean? We know that new teachers are usually assigned to the most challenged schools – how does the study account for that?

Does this study actually mean, as the article says, that “school principals will soon be able to shop around for math, science and other teachers by comparing those from LSU with other colleges and universities.” Or is this a potentially promising concept that needs some critical review?

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