Review exposes serious problems with oft-cited research on value-added teacher evaluation

Published on Tuesday, April 22, 2014

NEPCIt’s a study that got a great deal of attention in the press. Former New Jersey Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf even invited one of the study’s authors to speak at a State Board of Education meeting. But now it’s a study that has been exposed as having serious flaws according to Moshe Adler of the department of Urban Planning at Columbia University and the Harry Van Arsdale, Jr. Center for Labor Studies at Empire State College, SUNY.

Adler reviewed the report put forth by economists Raj Chetty, John Friedman and Jonah Rockoff last year. In “Measuring the Impacts of Teachers, Parts I and II” the authors claimed that higher value-added scores for teachers lead to greater economic success for their students later in life.

However, Adler noted problems with the authors’ methodology and rationale that invalidate the paper's main claims about the value of value-added.

The only valid conclusion from this study is the opposite of what’s been reported and trumpeted: that teacher value-added scores have not been shown to have a long-term impact on income,” Adler wrote.

"The two papers under review here use questionable techniques to reach conclusions that are not supported by the data,” Adler concluded. “These problems rend the papers of no value in guiding educational policy."

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) produced Adler’s review with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

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