Every year, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission issues a Report Card on the state’s teacher training program. To evaluate educator effectiveness, THEC uses the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System.
Which effectively renders the Report Card of little value.
Not included in the report is a teacher’s overall effectiveness score on the TEAM model. That would include both observed scores and value-added data, plus other achievement measures. That would be a more robust score to report, but it’s not included.
I’ve written before on the very limited value of value-added data.
Here are some highlights of why we learn almost nothing from the THEC report in terms of whether or not a teacher education program is actually doing a good job:
Here’s the finding that gets all the attention: A top 5 percent teacher (according to value-added modeling or VAM) can help a classroom of students (28) earn $250,000 more collectively over their lifetime.
Now, a quarter of a million sounds like a lot of money.
But, in their sample, a classroom was 28 students. So, that equates to $8928.57 per child over their lifetime. That’s right, NOT $8928.57 MORE per year, MORE over their whole life.
For more math fun, that’s $297.61 more per year over a thirty year career with a VAM-designated “great” teacher vs. with just an average teacher.
Yep, get your kid into a high value-added teacher’s classroom and they could be living in style, making a whole $300 more per year than their friends who had the misfortune of being in an average teacher’s room.
If we go all the way down to what VAM designates as “ineffective” teaching, you’d likely see that number double, or maybe go a little higher. So, let’s say it doubles plus some. Now, your kid has a low VAM teacher and the neighbor’s kid has a high VAM teacher. What’s that do to his or her life?
Well, it looks like this: The neighbor kid gets a starting job offer of $41,000 and your kid gets a starting offer of $40,000.
So, THEC uses a marginal indicator of educator effectiveness to make a significant determination about whether or not educator training programs are effective. At the very least, such a determination should also include observed scores of these teachers over time or the entire TEAM score.
Until then, the annual Report Card on teacher training will add little value to the education policy discussion in Tennessee.
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