Value add limitations debated in HB153

As the budget bill, HB153, moves through the sausage making factory, hearings and testimony have taken place on the provisions to use Value Add measurements as a component of teacher evaluation and pay. We have previously discussed the limitations of this approach, and now those limitations have been expressed to legislators.

Michele Winship from the Ohio Education Association expressed concern at the proposal, because value-added data can only be calculated for 75% to 80% of teachers, those that teach reading and math in grades 4-8. A fact that even the education Czar, Mr. Sommers has acknowledged.

How would the group of teachers who are left out of this scheme be compensated? This is to say nothing of the wholly inadequate level of funding being made available for incentives, as was pointed out by Greg Mild recently.

Gongwer reports

Matthew Cohen, executive director for policy and accountability at the Department of Education, said the state's Race to the Top proposal is already working to develop some of what the budget bill's proposal would employ. Whereas value-added data currently is reported on school building and district levels, funding through the grant will facilitate the development of teacher-level data.
The effort, however, is meant to produce a report teachers can use to affect their instruction. It is not proposed as a way to evaluate or compensate educators, Mr. Cohen said.

The RTTT proposal also includes an expansion component that would allow schools to voluntarily join a pilot project to explore ways to apply value added to other grades and subjects, he said.

To allow all teachers to be compensated and given bonuses based on student performance, assessments would have to be crafted for all grades in all subjects. Mr. Asbury said he does not think the state has any such measure readily available.

"Teaching is a complex art. I think the assessment of teaching is equally complex," he said. "I think there's potential, but value added is not a silver bullet like anything else."

Ms. Phillips pointed to the relative newness of the field itself. "I wouldn't want the data to be used in a way that's not appropriate or fair or effective, but beyond that is this issue of whether we have any reliable measures."

Ms. Winship said research indicates that the value-added measure is unreliable because indicators can fluctuate from one year to the next.

"A teacher who has high value-added ratings one year could have low value-added ratings the next year," she said. "The bottom line is that the tests on which these data are based were never developed to measure teacher effectiveness."

The report goes on to discuss the significant burden this massive expansion of measurement and evaluation would have on administrators - much as we pointed out a number of weeks ago.

While there is no guarantee that legislators will listen to facts and solid reason, the case has at least been made.

The state budget is no place for complex policy such as teacher evaluation. Such radical changes deserve more careful consideration and broader consultation before being implemented.