Books on VAMs

Rethinking Value-Added Models in Education: Critical Perspectives on Tests and Assessment-Based Accountability
Audrey Amrein-Beardsley (2014; Routledge)

Audrey Amrein-Beardsley writes in her book about the analytical methods of documenting students‘ academic progress over time, specific to using VAMs and student growth models (e.g., the Student Growth Percentiles [SGP] model) and students’ large-scale standardized test scores to measure growth. Throughout the book, she discusses the major issues surrounding VAMs writ large, specifically in that they have (thus far) issues with 1) reliability or consistency, 2) validity, 3) transparency, 4) fairness, and 5) use, especially in that they are too often being used to make consequential decisions regarding such things as teacher pay, retention, and termination. She also examines the unintended consequences of VAM use, and abuse, many of which are not fully recognized in larger policy arenas.

How to Use Value-Added Analysis to Improve Student Learning
Kate Kennedy, Mary Peters, Mike Thomas (2012; Corwin Press)

This field guide for school administrators attempts to close the gap between having value-added data, and knowing how to use value-added data. The authors acknowledge that value-added data alone will do nothing to improve the quality of teaching and provide examples of how to combine value-added data with achievement data to build a holistic professional development platform for districts, schools, and individual teachers. They also express the critical need for district administrators to plan heavily before implementing value-added, easing into the implementation with lower-stakes consequences and transparency in order to achieve teacher buy-in. The authors note very realistic concerns that teachers have with understanding and using value-added reports and explain how improper implementation can damage campus morale and heighten teacher objections to the models. However, the authors express that as long as principals understand and discuss with teachers the utility of their value-added data on a regular, on-going basis, teacher concerns can be absolved.

Value-Added Measures in Education: What Every Educator Needs to Know
Douglas N. Harris (2011; Harvard Education Press)

Doug Harris’ book focuses solely on VAMs and what the title suggests, “What every educator needs to know” about VAMs. Hence, his examination of VAMs, while primarily of VAMs’ technical properties and limitations, is written in a way to make this highly technical information accessible to more of an everyday practitioner type of audience. Beyond VAMs’ strengths and weaknesses, Harris also proposes a series of suggestions, given the limitations of value-added, so that others, particularly those in practice, do not feel paralyzed by the top-down policies of which VAMs and VAM use are a part. He also offers implications of those for policy.

Value Added Models in Education: Theory and Applications
Robert Lissitz (Ed.) (2005: JAM Press)

Lissitz’ edited book covers two main topics on the use of value-added: a) technical assessment of value-added as an accountability tool; and b) the application of value-added as an accountability policy lever. The authors’ treatment of value-added, however, is mostly focused on its accountability use at the school level. In other words, value-added is conceived primarily as a tool for judging and improving schools, not educators (although two of the chapters do focus on teacher-level value-added). The 2005 publication date also precedes the seismic shift towards the use of value-added for educator evaluation.

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