Measuring student academic growth through Value Added methodology: An introduction Franklin D. Jenkins, J.D.
Anne is an 11th grade student at Imaginary Hills High School in the Wonderful Heights School District. She has scored above state and federal proficiency levels on her standardized tests, but has been experiencing less than expected academic growth during each school year since elementary school.
David is an 11th grade student at Dream Valley High School, also in the Wonderful Heights School District. He did not meet academic standards on the recently administered standardized test, but has made significant academic growth each school year since beginning high school. He has continued to progress in each of his courses, especially in the core subjects.
Most state accountability systems annually evaluate a school’s success based on the average achievement level of students at each grade. In this type of system, Anne and her school would be considered successful, while David and his school would be below standard.
Simply because scores are high does not mean schools are doing a good job. Conversely, when scores are low, it does not necessarily mean schools are doing a bad job.
“Without a value added dimension, the obvious basis for judgement is that ‘higher’ scores represent better practice and ‘lower’ scores worse. This could lead to unwarranted complacency on the part of some schools ... and, conversely, to despair on the part of others ...”
Lord Ron Dearing (1993)
Achievement versus Progress Achievement is measured by students' performance at a single point in time and how well those students perform against a standard. Achievement has typically been measured by students' performance on state tests and how well students perform in relation to state standards and the "bar" established for proficiency. Districts', schools', and teachers' performances have been determined almost exclusively by the number of students who pass the state tests. Progress is measured by how much "gain" or "growth" students make over time (i.e., year-to-year, semester-to-semester, etc.). One way to think of academic progress is in terms of a child's growth chart. A growth chart shows a child's height at age two, three, etc. These data points can be plotted to display that child's physical growth over a specific period of time.
Why is measuring both achievement and progress important? By combining achievement and progress information with other data sources, schools and districts will have a more robust, comprehensive picture of their impact on student learning.
How can academic progress be measured? Through Value Added assessment...
What is Value Added assessment?Value Added is a model used to statistically analyze test data to determine the influence of teachers, schools, and school districts on student learning. Instead of comparing students to each other or to an established level of proficiency, Value Added assessment compares students to themselves, to determine if they are advancing academically, and, at what pace.
What Is Meant by Value Added? Value Added is a measure of the relative progress made by pupils in a school over a particular period of time. The concept of Value Added is both as an indicator of a school’s effectiveness and a tool for teachers and their staff to use to analyse the extent to which they have effectively raised pupil achievement.
Why Value Added? Raw results describe the grades that students have obtained.
Raw results do not describe how well a school has performed. Value Added results describe how effective a school is in promoting students' achievement.
What are the benefits of Value Added information to educators? Value Added information provides important diagnostic information that is not readily available from test data. Value Added information allows educators to assess their school's impact on student learning, and can help initiate conversations about the efficacy of curriculum, instructional practices and programs. Value Added information also allows educators to better identify what is working well and areas for improvement to help individual students and groups of students.
An effective teacher has more impact on student performance than any other school-based factor. If African American students could be guaranteed teachers in the top 25 percent of their profession throughout high school, the gap between their test scores and those of white students would disappear. Melinda Gates, February 2010
Teachers make a big difference, and Value Added data provides a lens to focus on what teachers bring to students rather than what students bring to the classroom.
Does Value Added measure all groups of students? Yes. If tests have enough "stretch" to measure the growth of both low-achieving and high-achieving students, it is possible to measure all groups of student progress. The Value Added methodology used is sensitive to an individual student's achievement levels. It measures growth from the end of one period to the end of the next period, regardless of whether a student performs below or above grade level.
How does Value Added help students? Value Added instruction promotes differentiated education; helping each student improve in her academic progress. Shed patterns of teaching, where instruction is focused on either high or low achievers (at the expense of the other groups of students) result in lower academic progress for some students in the attempt to reach a school aggregate standardized test standing. Value Added instruction works to provide instruction that is tailored towards helping each student meet and exceed achievement standards.
Why not teach a general curriculum geared towards the “average” student? Teaching to the “middle,” or utilizing teepee teaching patterns where the focus is on instruction aimed at the “average” student, fails to meet the academic needs of those students that are either high or low achievers. Teepee teaching patterns result in lower academic progress for students outside of the target group, despite previous achievement level. Value Added instruction can be used to help each student improve her academic progress, regardless of previous achievement level.
What about socioeconomic factors? Student demographic variables have no significant relationship with student progress measures. Value Added analysis measures the change in student academic achievement levels from one point in time to another (i.e., year-to-year.) Factors that remain relatively constant over time, such as socioeconomic status, have shown little or no impact on student progress.
Can any test data be utilized? Test data must meet the following criteria to be used in Value Added analysis: Be highly correlated with curricular objectives Have enough "stretch" to measure the growth of both low- and high- achieving students Meet appropriate standards of test reliability
How does it affect classroom instruction? The Value Added approach was developed to estimate each student's academic growth over his or her school year in each subject. It does not suggest a particular method for encouraging this growth. Teachers can and must be flexible, innovative and creative in their approaches to move all students toward higher levels of achievement.
Value Added assessment not only supports the understanding that all students can learn, it also provides a means to determine the pace at which students are learning. Data obtained from Value Added assessment can be a useful tool for teachers and administrators to improve student learning.
It is possible for schools and teachers to provide high-productivity education to all types of students, including students with low prior achievement.