Principals’ Perspectives on Value-Added

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Principals are not using recent teacher evaluation data, including data from value-added assessment systems, student surveys, and other student achievement indicators, to inform decisions about hiring, placements, and professional development, according to findings from a research study recently released by researchers at Vanderbilt University.

The data most often used by principals? Data collected via their direct observations of their teachers in practice.

Education Week’s Denisa Superville also covered this study here, writing that principals are most likely to use classroom-observation data to inform such decisions, rather than the data yielded via VAMs and other student test scores. Of least relevance were data derived via parent surveys.

Reasons for not using value-added data specifically? “[A]access to the data, the availability of value-added measures when decisions are being made, a lack of understanding of the statistical models used in the evaluation systems, and the absence of training in using [value-added] data.”

Moving forward, “the researchers recommend that districts clarify their expectations for how principals should use data and what data sources should be used for specific human-resources decisions. They recommend training for principals on using value-added estimates, openly encouraging discussions about data use, and clarifying the roles of value-added estimates and observation scores.”

If this is to happen, hopefully such efforts will be informed by the research community, in order to help district and administrators more critically consume value-added data in particular, for that which they can and cannot do.

Note: This study is not yet peer-reviewed, so please consume this information for yourself with that being known.

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