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Grading the Teachers: Using Value-Added Scores to Evaluate Ohio Teachers

Background

Teacher evaluations, once based largely on a brief classroom visit from a principal every few years, will change dramatically this school year.


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This series about valued-added, a new way that Ohio is using to measure whether teachers provide a year’s worth of learning to their students, is the result of a partnership between The Cleveland Plain Dealer and StateImpact Ohio. StateImpact reporters Molly Bloom and Ida Lieszkovszky worked with Plain Dealer reporter Patrick O’Donnell and Plain Dealer data analysis editor Rich Exner to produce these stories.

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Data

Ohio is one of more than 30 states experimenting with more rigorous, data-driven systems of grading teachers. In Ohio’s case, teachers earn one of five value-added ratings that are a key part of their overall “final grades.” Those grades range from “Most Effective” at the top end of the scale to the “Least Effective.”

Many policymakers view this data-driven approach to sizing up teacher performance as crucial to weeding out bad teachers and rewarding good ones. But some teachers see the measure as a flawed attempt at quantifying something that isn’t easily quantifiable.

How it Works

Value-added scores are calculated by comparing how much students in each teacher’s class learned during the course of the year with how much they’re expected to learn.

How much they learn basically means how much their scores on state tests changed year to year. How much they’re expected to learn is determined by looking at how much other students at similar achievement levels have learned from year to year.

The better students do in comparison to their peers, the better their teacher’s score. That differential is assumed to be the teacher’s doing — the “value” he or she adds in the classroom.

Those ratings are still something of an experiment. Only reading and math teachers in grades four to eight get value-added ratings now. But the state is exploring how to expand value-added to other grades and subjects.

Why it Matters

What’s riding on these grades varies depending on how school districts choose to use them. But more than a teacher’s pride is at stake. The ratings could eventually become part of decisions about how much teachers are paid, what classes they teach and, if a district has to lay off teachers, their place on the list of who stays and who goes.

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Grading the Teachers: The Sound of Ideas Takes on Teacher Evaluation, Value Added

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cogdogblog / Flickr Tomorrow at 9 a.m. WCPN’s talk show The Sound of Ideas will take on the topic of teacher evaluations and Ohio’s use of a statistical, test-based measure called value-added to rate teachers. Along with The Cleveland Plain Dealer, we’ve been exploring how value-added works and how it’s affecting teachers and schools.

Grading the Teachers: Teachers in Richer Schools Score Higher on Value-Added Measure

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Value-added was supposed to be the great equalizer — a measure of schools that would finally judge fairly how much poor students are learning compared with their wealthier peers. Meant to gauge whether students learn as much as expected in a given year, value-added will become a key part of rating individual teachers from rich [...]

Grading the Teachers: Performance Isn’t Reflected in Teachers’ Paychecks

Students in Emily Brown’s Toledo classroom conduct an experiment on the movement of waves. While she drops a block of clay into an aluminum tray filled with water and watches the waves spread out, 7th grader Angel Hines explains why she likes Mrs. Brown. “She actually lets us grade her so she knows if she’s [...]

Grading the Teachers: Measuring Teacher Performance Through Student Growth

Toledo 7th grade teacher Emily Brown helps students with a science experiment on the motion of waves. Brown has been rated most effective in math twice, and most effective than average in reading.

Schools get rated based on how well students perform on standardized state tests. Not so for teachers. Their main evaluation comes from often brief classroom observations by a principal. Practically no one fails. The new value-added measurement Ohio is phasing in aims to gauge how much a student learns from one year to the next, [...]

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