There has been a lot of talk lately about value-added assessment in Ohio (including a high profile conference by Battelle for Kids last month). The day is nearing when the Buckeye State goes "value-added." A pilot run is set for next school year and full-scale implementation is set for 2007-08. Naturally, plenty of questions still surround this new assessment model and what it will mean for students, schools, and district accountability. In an effort to help shed light on this, Gadfly has decided to explore some of the most asked questions about value-added assessment.
What does value-added assessment really mean?
It's a method of analyzing individual student test scores over time. The statistics used in value-added assessment virtually eliminate non-school factors that affect student achievement, providing a reasonably accurate indication of how effective schools are at "adding value" to the academic performance of their students. It does not, however, focus on whether or not students have reached proficiency on state standards. Some schools may measure high on growth indicators but low on achievement indicators (say, a high school with lots of students who start out far behind but make great progress over time, yet still are not up to standards). Under No Child Left Behind, and Ohio's current accountability system, such schools are punished. One may wonder whether that's fair. (But one may also wonder whether it's fair to praise a school for adding value if its students are still not performing satisfactorily in relation to absolute standards.)
How will value-added assessment be factored into the state's accountability system?
It's supposed to supplement the state's current accountability system (which is aligned with the federal No Child Left Behind law), but the Ohio Accountability Task Force is still working to determine how best to accomplish this goal. The questions they are dealing with include such issues as how much growth is enough and how much progress is enough? How can we focus on growth while still ensuring that all children ultimately reach proficiency in reading and math standards by 2014 (which NCLB requires)? And, what does value-added assessment mean for accountability and charter schools, especially for schools that serve drop-outs? Will value-added measures be used to provide financial awards to schools and teachers, as is the case in some other states?
As this unfolds in the coming months, Gadfly will provide our readers with updates. In the meantime, if you'd like more information, check out these websites:
Judging Value Added: A better assessment of school performance starts with the recognition that the playing field isn't level
Battelle for Kids
Ohio Accountability Task Force
Amended Substitute House Bill 3