Value Added Changes


In what is certain to be welcome news to many teachers across the state, Governor Bill Haslam announced yesterday that he will be proposing changes to the state’s teacher evaluation process in the 2015 legislative session.

Perhaps the most significant proposal is to reduce the weight of value-added data on teacher evaluations during the transition to a new test for Tennessee students.

From the Governor’s press release explaining the proposed changes:

The governor’s proposal would:
•        Adjust the weighting of student growth data in a teacher’s evaluation so that the new state assessments in ELA and math will count 10 percent of the overall evaluation in the first year of
administration (2016), 20 percent in year two (2017) and 35 percent in year
three (2018). Currently 35 percent of an educator’s evaluation is comprised of
student achievement data based on student growth;
•        Lower the weight of student achievement growth for teachers in non-tested grades and subjects
from 25 percent to 15 percent;
•        And make explicit local school district discretion in both the qualitative teacher evaluation model that is used for the observation portion of the evaluation as well as the specific
weight student achievement growth in evaluations will play in personnel
decisions made by the district.


The proposal does not go as far as some have proposed, but it does represent a transition period to new tests that teachers have been seeking.  It also provides more local discretion in how evaluations are conducted.

Some educators and critics question the ability of value-added modeling to accurately predict teacher performance.

In fact, the American Statistical Association released a statement on value-added models that says, in part:

Most VAM studies find that teachers account for about 1% to 14% of the variability in test scores

Additional analysis of the ability of value-added modeling to predict significant differences in teacher performance finds that this data doesn’t effectively differentiate among teachers.

I certainly have been critical of the over-reliance on value-added modeling in the TEAM evaluation model used in Tennessee. While the proposed change ultimately returns to using VAM for a significant portion of teacher scores, it also represents an opportunity to both transition to a new test AND explore other options for improving the teacher evaluation system.

For more on value-added modeling and its impact on the teaching profession:

Saving Money and Supporting Teachers

Real World Harms of Value-Added Data

Struggles with Value-Added Data

An Ineffective Teacher?

Principals’ Group Challenges VAM


For more on education policy and politics in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

5 thoughts on “Value Added Changes

  1. It’s not really much of a change. It’s a reprieve. In 2018, it goes back to 35% and it may or may not be better. We don’t really know what the state assessment will be. Who knows what we will have with the state in a constant state of flux. I think it is just a way the governor can lessen the grumble in the meantime and kick the can to the next person in office.

  2. If I understand correctly, this change is pretty insignificant, even in the short-term. Value-added has always been calculated as a three year rolling average. With the proposed change, the total impact of value-added doesn’t diminish from the current 35%. Basically, the first year of the new test will be worth 10%, and the two previous year’s TCAPs will be worth a total of 25%. The next year, the average of the two years of the new test will be worth 20%, and the TCAP that is three years old will be worth 15%. Basically, under the current system, the value-added score from each year (of the three most recent years) is worth 11.66%. The proposed change shifts this down to 10% per year for 2 years. Yes, it’s a change, but a slight one.

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