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010912 VA Policy Memo

010912 VA Policy Memo

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Published by StudentsFirst

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Published by: StudentsFirst on Jan 19, 2012
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01/19/2012

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To:
State Legislators and Policy Makers
From:
Eric Lerum - Vice President of National Policy, StudentsFirst
RE:
Groundbreaking New Study Highlights Importance of Implementing Meaningful Teacher EvaluationsWith many state legislatures back in session this month, leaders all around the country are consideringhow we can ensure that our students all have great teachers in their classrooms. A groundbreaking newstudy released last week by researchers from Harvard and Columbia provides important new informationfor guiding how we think about building and implementing meaningful teacher evaluation models. As youand your colleagues consider such policies, we thought it might be valuable to summarize and share someof the study’s key findings to help better guide your policymaking efforts.The study contains two key implications for policy questions surrounding evaluations. First, effectiveteachers (as identified by value-added assessments based on student growth on tests, adjusted fordemographic factors) are highly correlated with positive impacts outside the classroom. This means thatthe work of an effective teacher ultimately does much more than just raise a student’s test scores (thoughit does that too). Second, these value-added models are able to differentiate and identify effectiveteachers clearly and with significant accuracy. These findings are particularly notable because theyaddress key concerns about the use of value-added measures based on student achievement growth inteacher evaluations and personnel decisions. The study, which was conducted over 20 years, indicatesthat what we can estimate in terms of a teacher’s impact on student achievement is also highly predictiveof the impact the teacher will have on a student’s life trajectory.
The Study: “The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student OutcomesIn Adulthood.”
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 This report is groundbreaking in terms of the scale of the data that is collected and the quality of resultswhich we are able to infer from it. The report analyzed school district data for grades 3 through 8 for 2.5million children over 20 years, and linked that data to tax records to identify parent characteristics andadult outcomes. Because of the unprecedented scope in time-series and sample size, the study is able toaddress one frequent criticism of value-added testing, that it often produces great variance in scores as ateacher moves from class to class. Critics particularly point to the high margin of error with many value-added ratings. But in looking at individual teachers’ value-added scores, the researchers found that someconsistently outperformed their peers.
The Findings: Better Student Outcomes With Better Teachers
 The study found that students who had teachers that were identified as effective (by their value-addedscores, based on student test performance and growth) were more likely to attend college, attend higher-ranked colleges, earn higher salaries, and live in better neighborhoods, and had lower rates of teenpregnancy. These teachers were clearly linked to better life outcomes and strong success in the student’sfuture educational and career endeavors. For instance, the report found that even marginal improvementsto the quality of a student’s teacher were directly linked to a measureable increase in earnings later in life(the report estimates that a statistical improvement of one standard deviation in a teacher’s ratedeffectiveness increases earning by about 1% by the time the student reaches age 28). Startlingly, thereport also found that replacing a teacher whose effectiveness was rated in the bottom 5% with anaverage teacher would increase lifetime earnings for the average classroom by more than $250,000. The
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Chetty, J., Friedman, J.N., & Rockoff, J.E. (2011). The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood(Working Paper No. 17699). Retrieved from National Bureau of Economic Research website:http://papers.nber.org/papers/w17699 
 
 
reports authors write, “We conclude that good teachers create substantial economic value and that testscore impacts are helpful in identifying good teachers.” 
Students Learn More From Good Teachers
 Among the theories the report’s authors set out to test was the question of whether teachers whosestudents score well on tests genuinely improve student outcomes, or are simply better at teaching to thetest. In addition to finding that effective teachers produced a variety of positive life outcomes and drovestudent success, they also found that the gains from effective teachers stayed with students well into thestudent’s future. While gains from the initial year do fade out over time, the report indicates that theystabilize at about 1/3
rd
of the original impact after three years, showing that a solid amount of theachievement gains persist. The charts below (taken from a presentation compiled by the study’s authors
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)show the lagged impact, as well as a clearly correlated increase in college attendance rates for studentswith highly rated teachers, just one example of the improved educational outcomes that highly ratedteachers impart.
These Models Effectively Differentiate, Identifying Teachers Who Are Great, and Those WhoAren’t
 The study finds that a teacher’s value-added scores are clearly predictive of the success they have inteaching students, and therefore the success the students themselves will achieve, in their scores onassessments and in other indicators outside of and after they complete school. As the study’s authorswrite, “the findings in this paper and prior work are sufficient to conclude that standard estimates of teacher [value-added] can provide accurate forecasts of teacher’s average impacts on student’s testscores.” They also note that “good teachers create substantial economic value and that test score impactsare helpful in identifying such teachers.” Thanks to the scope of the study, the potential for variance dueto differences among the students in different classrooms that some critics point to appears to be minimal.As the New York Times puts it, "the researchers found that some [teachers] consistently outperformedtheir peers," regardless of the classroom they were leading. The charts below (also taken from the studypresentation) illustrate this value clearly. The first shows the effect of entry of a high value-added teacheron their students’ performance, with clear gains being demonstrated immediately. The second shows theharmful effects of entry of a low value-added teacher, also realized immediately. In both cases, thisevidence of change in student learning outcomes – whether they improve or decline – is stark, and closelytied to the effectiveness of the teacher.
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http://obs.rc.fas.harvard.edu/chetty/value_added.html
   0   0 .   2   0 .   4   0 .   6   0 .   8   1
-4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4
Year 
   I  m  p  a  c   t  o   f   C  u  r  r  e  n   t   T  e  a  c   h  e  r   V   A  o  n   T  e  s   t   S  c  o  r  e
Impacts of Teacher Value-Added on Lagged, Current, and Future Test Scores
   P  e  r  c  e  n   t   i  n   C  o   l   l  e  g  e  a   t   A  g  e   2   0
Teacher Value-Added
37%37.5%38%38.5%-0.2 -0.1 0 0.1 0.2
β
= 4.92%(0.65)1 SD of TVA
0.1
1 SD TVA = 0.49%
College Attendance at Age 20 vs. Teacher Value-Added

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