The benefits of a value-added approach to school accountability, one that measures the test-score gains of individual students from year-to-year, is that it doesn't unfairly penalize schools that enroll large numbers of disadvantaged students. But it has drawbacks. Take, for example, the news that Cincinnati Public Schools may, now that Ohio has instituted value-added as part of its system, be judged "effective," which is the second-highest of the Buckeye State's five-tiered rating system. Even though CPS graduates students whose test scores are far lower than those of pupils in a nearby suburban district, the two systems could be judged equal. On one hand, CPS might be doing fine work, but on the other hand, most students who leave with CPS diplomas are by no means prepared to go on to college or fill a demanding job. An "effective" label thus gives a "false positive" to the community and education leaders that all is well, when it's not. Reauthorizers, take note.
"Could CPS rank ‘effective'?," by Ben Fischer, The Cincinnati Enquirer, April 26, 2008