Adding to value-added

For all its appeal, value-added measurement
(VAM) of teacher quality cannot become our sole teacher-evaluation tool, not
least because VAM-based evaluations are only possible today for about 30
percent of the teaching force (basically reading and math teachers of third through
eighth graders). So what to do about the rest? As detailed by ace Ed Week
reporter Stephen Sawchuck, content-area experts, administrators, and even some
teacher unions have begun to structure robust alternative measures of
assessment, using classroom observations, portfolios, and teacher-created
assessment frameworks. Rhode Island will be among the first states to adopt
student learning objectives as part of its teacher-evaluation system; districts
in New York have worked with their AFT-affiliated union members to shape
teacher-evaluation frameworks. And there is talk in other states of using data like
AP assessments to gauge student progress, and thus teacher effectiveness. This
wonky work is exactly what’s needed if we want to transform teacher evaluation
from a pro forma activity to something of a science. Still, it remains to be
seen whether these new assessment mechanisms will provide valuable information,
or simply produce another “widget effect.”

Ways to Assess the Majority of Teachers
,” by Stephen Sawchuck, Education Week, January 31, 2011.