With the Bloomberg administration in court today arguing for the right to release to the media the value-added ratings of 12,000 New York City public school teachers, it's a good time to remember that a number of proponents of value-added research itself actually oppose this sort of hyper-public rating, ranking, and shaming of teachers.
When I profiled Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp for The Daily Beast, here's what she told me about newspapers publishing value-added data linked to individual teachers' names:
The principals of very high performing schools would all say their No. 1 strategy is to build extraordinary teams. I can't imagine it's a good organizational strategy to go publish the names of teachers and one data point about whether they are effective or not in the newspaper.
Seyward Darby, an education reporter at The New Republic, a magazine that consistently supports standards-and-accountability-driven education reform, has written:
Yes, the information should be available to those in the public who want it — namely parents. But schools or school districts, not newspapers, should share it with parents in a constructive manner, so that they are able to ask questions and understand fully what the information means. ... I'm all for transparency. But a wide-open view of incomplete information isn't what we need to improve education. What's more, broadly publicizing even the most thorough of information isn't always productive; complexities and nuances are often best conveyed in smaller settings, with the stakeholders who matter most.
To learn more about value-added, I recommend the following two papers:
Cautiously in favor: Douglas N. Harris, "Would Accountability Based on Teacher Value-Added Be Smart Policy?"
Very much against: The Economic Policy Institute, "Problems With the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers"
By the way, the fact that Bloomberg is still pursuing such a controversial move under the reign of the supposedly kinder, more community-oriented chancellor, Dennis Walcott, goes to show that few actual policies will change with Walcott now in power.