Home > Teacher Accountability > “Value-Added” adds more value to schools

“Value-Added” adds more value to schools

I don’t know about your high school experience, but mine was definitely one to remember, for good and bad reasons. After the 30 minute drive there every morning at 7am, my day of learning had officially begun.  My schedule during senior year sounded difficult to the average person and before the first couple weeks of school I was actually pretty nervous about it.  But after meeting my teachers and experiencing their teaching methods, I learned that my senior year was going to be a breeze.  It’s not like they were bad teachers, they were just easy and seemed to be not very passionate about teaching.  This made me not very passionate about learning.  Teachers in the United States should start being held more accountable for how they are teaching and the success of their students.  Students shouldn’t be able walk through high school just studying for the tests and not retaining any real knowledge, because thats what I did and I didn’t know that I was just hurting myself in the end.  Thats when I realized that my study habits wouldn’t get me through college and I didn’t understand why I wasn’t fully prepared.  All students in the United States should feel fully prepared for college, if they decide to go, and I feel like teachers should be a huge part of making a student feel prepared.

I had many different types of teachers throughout high school and my favorite were the teachers who were nice and gave us a light lode of school work.  I think they were just lazy and tried to convince themselves that they were being nice and reasonable but also strict and authoritative.  In reality they were just easy and everyone made it seem like they tried really hard, but really all of the material was just extremely easy.  Lazy teachers can be found everywhere which is a big problem.  We don’t need teachers who probably picked teaching as a backup career or teachers who are just resentful of their job.  Their attitudes about teaching should be full of ambition and initiative because students grades are reflected on the effort they put forward.

The most effective way to evaluate teachers and how effective their teaching methods are is the “Value-Added Assessment”.  The Value-Added Assessment is a way of evaluating teachers by testing their students from year to year to see the individuals progress.  If the student isn’t showing progress on their standardized tests then the teacher is not doing their job well. Value added has been around since the 70’s and has gradually become more popular, and more controversial.  If all the kinks were smoothed out of this method, I know that the Value-Added Assessment could really change and improve all of our schools in the United States.

Some people may ask “aren’t the standardized tests which Value-Added is based on flawed?” No standardized test is perfect and most tests reflect socioeconomic backgrounds more than what’s learned in the classroom. But since value-added compares students to themselves in previous years, rather than to students with different backgrounds, the scores of the students aren’t flawed and neither are the evaluations of the teachers. With this approach the government will be able to see which districts need more assistance and they can send better qualified teachers, or teachers with better scores on their evaluations to the schools that need more help.  It’s like sending excellent managers to a fast food store that need help with management or more organization.  I used to work at a fast food restaurant and a new manager was sent to us from a neighboring store and completely changed our store for the better. If this method was applied to our schools then I think the same thing would happen.

Teacher evaluations are good in many ways, not only for the schools but for the parents of the students that go to the schools. At some schools, to make the kids feel good about themselves, or keep parents happy, kids are passed on no matter whether they deserve to be. I know that this happened in my school a lot and it only hurt me in the end.  I had good relationships with all of my teachers and I believe that helped my grade at the end of the year. Evaluating teachers will hopefully eliminate this from happening in our schools.  It’s good to have good relationships with your teachers but a students relationship with a teacher should not have any effect on the student’s final grade.

In my opinion, teachers are the most important school-related factor in a students education and until now the parents had little information about how effective their teachers are being. Teacher accountability is important because parents have a right to know whether their children’s teachers are effectively teaching them. If I saw that my school’s teachers evaluations were low or dropping, I would send my child to a school or district where the teacher’s evaluations were higher.  I know that my child probably wouldn’t want to leave their school but having a good education is one of the most important things in the world.

I know that if my high school was a part of the Value-Added Assessment then both my parents and I would be happier with my experience.  My teachers would be evaluated and would be more aware of their effectiveness which would benefit my learning.  If teachers recieved low ratings they would be able to asses their methods and hopefully make them better.  My parents would also be able to see my growth and get me any extra help if i needed it.  Overall, teachers need to start being evaluated using the Value-Added Assessment because it would not only help their career but it will help the students education as well.

  1. December 7, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    You talk of teachers that are “not being very passionate” about their teaching. I wonder if you would be very passionate about a career in which you were limited to very few choices. Would you find your job very fulfilling if you have little to no choice of what to teach, yet you are the educator? You say that we are to hold teachers accountable; I say we should let them be accountable, but make sure they have a say in the matter.
    The answer to our schools failing is not to have teachers career’s thrown out into the public for others to judge. Rather than that, we should improve the teachers. It is not the teachers failing us; it is the system in which they are governed under. How can we hold teachers accountable for actions that are predetermined by government as what to teach?
    You are stating that we need to give our entire education system up to a test. This test, in general, is the entire reason of our schools corruption. How can you support a test that keeps some “special needs” children from entering because of their lower funding, due to test scores? What about how teachers, not always “bad” teachers, are beginning to get fired because the school doesn’t have funding. Students losing out on actually gains of knowledge because teachers are stuck with teaching to the test.
    In an honest opinion, as a nation like America, we cannot believe that leaving teachers under teaching limits is beneficial. Look back to when teachers actually ran their schools. If you were to read letters from soldiers that were deployed overseas during WW2 and then compare those letters, by grammar and detail, to the soldiers of today. It is astounding at the difference. Teachers are the backbone and our entire education system, but teachers cannot be exactly that when held back by the bureaucracy of our governments standards.
    I leave you with this question to answer:
    How can we hold a teacher responsible for curriculum that they themselves cannot prepare as they see fit?

  2. Student of MSU
    December 7, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    The talk of teachers being very passionate is how i think of my high school teahcer also. I was in high school and we had homework assignments and we were always given extra days to get them turned in, the teachers were to easy on us. I wish i would have had a teacher that had given me zero’s everytime i turned in a late paper. I got used to that method in high school now that im in college i have to keep telling myself that im not going to be giving extra days to do it, if it’s not turned in then its a zero. I did not learn any study skills in high school. Therefor i struggle study for my college exams. This is why the high school teachers need to get us ready and prepared for college so when we get to college the students will not be stressing about studying or getting there assignments in on time. If you get in a routine of it in high school then you will done be prepared for college.

  3. Nick McCune
    December 7, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    What about other factors that aren’t calculated in the value added system? Things such as class size, resources available to the teacher, the students situation at home, and the subject they are teaching. If the class size is too big, the students will not be able to get the individual attention that is usually needed to grasp a lesson. If teachers are using textbooks from 1992 they will not be able to stay up to date with todays information. Is it the teachers fault that a students parents aren’t willing to do their part in motivating and helping their children with school? And how can Phys Ed. or Art and Music teachers be evaluated in the value-added system? All of these outside factors play into a students standardized test scores, and shows how the value added system is a poor way to evaluate teachers.
    With the value added system there is no doubt that teachers teach to the test. Why not? If my job was on the line I would do the same thing. Students are taught in high school how to get to college. They are taught that if you do good on the SAT/ACT you will make it. But what happens when you get to college? How do you make the next step from there? High school teachers need to take more time to teach students how to study effectively, and how to manage their time.
    There are many different alternatives to how we can evaluate teachers performance. I came up with a way that I believe will work best. My idea is similar to jury duty, citizens should be chosen randomly to sit in a class and evaluate all aspects of the lesson. We can create a common set of questions that this random citizen has to answer about the class. The only criteria would be that the citizen has to have a high school diploma, and they cannot have any kids currently in the school district that they will be observing. This would eliminate any bias, and would create a common evaluate system so that it is easier to find out what teachers are really getting the job done. The teacher should get no warning that this observation is taking place so that they cannot prepare something special for the class. This would weed out all of the teachers that are making it easier on the students.

  4. September 15, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Learned a lot from this blog post, appreciate it.

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