Value-Added Measures in Education: What Every Educator Needs to Know


Value-Added Measures in Education cover image“Hold people accountable for what they can
control”—a simple, yet foundational premise in Douglas N. Harris’s
comprehensive new book on value-added measurement (VAM). With the AFT’s Randi
Weingarten authoring the foreword, Harris remains impressively neutral in
explaining the benefits and drawbacks of this controversial new teacher
evaluation tool. The book attempts to “clear away the fog” surrounding VAM,
which is no simple task. In three sections, it offers a detailed explanation
and contextualization of VAM (including an overview of its potential value when
done right), a description of the challenges that arise in applying VAM in the
real world, and potential solutions to these problems. Empirical analyses that
support Harris’s points are intertwined throughout; the book’s stated goal—to
translate this multi-faceted and contentious system into comprehensible language—is
handled admirably. Harris concludes with recommendations for using VAM
appropriately and effectively, as well as ways to create and report these
evaluation metrics. This book serves as a worthy users’ manual for value-added
and is a welcome addition to the teacher-measurement debate.

Douglas N. Harris, Value-Added
Measures in Education: What Every Educator Needs to Know
, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press,

Chris Irvine
Chris Irvine is a Policy and Operations Associate at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute