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Performance Evaluations

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Assessing the Potential of Using Value Added-Estimates of Teacher Job Performance for Making Tenure Decisions (CALDER Brief)
Dan Goldhaber, Michael Hansen

Using individual teacher and student-level longitudinal data from North Carolina, this research brief presents selected findings from work examining the stability of value-added model estimates of teacher effectiveness, focusing on their implication for teacher tenure policies and making high stakes personnel decisions. Findings show year-to-year correlations in teacher effects are modest, but pre-tenure estimates of teacher job performance do predict estimated post-tenure performance in both math and reading, and would therefore seem to be a reasonable metric to use as a factor in making substantive teacher selection decisions.

Posted to Web: April 15, 2009Publication Date: November 21, 2008

Measuring Effect Sizes: The Effect of Measurement Error (CALDER Working Paper)
Donald Boyd, Pamela Grossman, Hamilton Lankford, Susanna Loeb, James Wyckoff

This paper estimates the overall extent of test measurement error and how this varies across students using New York City longitudinal data. Results reinforce the importance of accounting for measurement error, as it meaningfully increases effect size estimates associated with teacher attributes. There are important differences in teacher effectiveness that are systematically related to observed teacher attributes. Such effects are important in the formulation and implementation of personnel policies.

Posted to Web: March 12, 2009Publication Date: June 01, 2008

Teacher Preparation and Student Achievement (CALDER Working Paper)
Donald Boyd, Pamela Grossman, Hamilton Lankford, Susanna Loeb, James Wyckoff

In debates over the best way to prepare teachers some argue that easing entry into teaching is necessary to attract strong candidates, while others argue that investing in high quality teacher preparation is most promising. Most agree that we lack a strong research basis for understanding how to prepare teachers. This paper estimates the effects of features of teachers' preparation on teachers' value-added to student test score performance in Math and English Language Arts. Results indicate variation across preparation programs in the average effectiveness of the teachers supplied to New York City schools. Preparation directly linked to practice appears to benefit first year teachers.

Posted to Web: March 10, 2009Publication Date: August 01, 2008

DCPS Human Capital Initiatives: Before the District of Columbia City Council (Testimony)
Jane Hannaway

Testimony of CALDER Director Jane Hannaway before the D.C. City Council on the human capital initiatives of the District of Columbia's Public Schools, given January 16, 2009. Hannaway describes CALDER's work on teacher quality addressing three main findings: (1) Teachers are the most important school factor that affects student learning, and the variation in effectiveness across teachers is large; (2) The variation in teacher effectiveness is greater within schools than the variation between schools; and (3) The variation in teacher effectiveness, both within and between schools, is a management problem that begs for attention. Hannaway argues at least some of this variation is a civil rights problem that demands policy attention and urges DCPS to continue to pursue new human capital management strategies to ensure teacher quality for all students.

Posted to Web: February 06, 2009Publication Date: January 16, 2009

Making a Difference?: The Effect of Teach for America on Student Performance in High School (Research Report)
Zeyu Xu, Jane Hannaway, Colin Taylor

Teach for America (TFA) selects and places graduates from the most competitive colleges as teachers in the lowest-performing schools in the country. This paper is the first study that examines TFA effects in high school. We use rich longitudinal data from North Carolina and estimate TFA effects through cross-subject student and school fixed-effects models. We find that TFA teachers tend to have a positive effect on high school student test scores relative to non-TFA teachers, including those who are certified in-field. Such effects exceed the impact of additional years of experience and are particularly strong in math and science.

Posted to Web: March 27, 2008Publication Date: March 27, 2008

Despite Little Experience, Teach for America Educators Outpace Veterans in Drawing Achievement from Students (Press Release)
Urban Institute

Teach for America teachers may be new to the profession, but they are generally more effective than their experienced colleagues, finds a new Urban Institute analysis. On average, high school students taught by TFA corps members performed significantly better on state-required end-of-course exams, especially in math and science, than peers taught by far more experienced instructors. The TFA teachers' effect on student achievement in core classroom subjects was nearly three times the effect of teachers with three or more years of experience. The study is the first investigation of the impact of TFA in high schools.

Posted to Web: March 27, 2008Publication Date: March 27, 2008

School Reform in the District of Columbia: Testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia (Testimony)
Jane Hannaway

The difficult tasks for District of Columbia policymakers and education administrators, the Urban Institute's Jane Hannaway told a Senate subcommittee, are how to get more high-performing teachers in the classroom (especially classrooms serving the most disadvantaged students), how to hold teachers and schools accountable for student performance, and how to do it fairly. Reforms that promote teacher effectiveness should no doubt be tried, but reforms should be guided by data systems that provide feedback on how well the reforms are doing and how they might be fine tuned.

Posted to Web: March 14, 2008Publication Date: March 14, 2008

Baltimore City's High School Reform Initiative (Research Report)
Becky Smerdon, Jennifer Cohen

This report presents findings from the first detailed study of Baltimore's 5 year high school reform. Using administrative data, Urban Institute researchers found that test scores and attendance rates were higher for students in Baltimore's innovation high schools than in the city's comprehensive or newly formed neighborhood high schools. Students in innovation and neighborhood schools also showed more stability in their enrollment than their counterparts in comprehensive schools. These findings remained after controlling for students' backgrounds and previous achievements even though students at innovation schools were more academically advantaged than their peers in other schools prior to entering high school.

Posted to Web: December 16, 2007Publication Date: December 16, 2007

Feeling the Florida Heat?: How Low-Performing Schools Respond to Voucher and Accountability Pressure (CALDER Working Paper)
Cecilia Elena Rouse, Jane Hannaway, Dan Goldhaber, David Figlio

This paper brings to bear new evidence from a remarkable five-year survey conducted of a census of public schools in Florida, coupled with detailed administrative data on student performance. We show that schools facing accountability pressure changed their instructional practices in meaningful ways. In addition, we present medium-run evidence of the effects of school accountability on student test scores, and find that a significant portion of these test score gains can likely be attributed to the changes in school policies and practices that we uncover in our surveys.

Posted to Web: November 29, 2007Publication Date: November 29, 2007

Value-Added Analysis and Education Policy (CALDER Brief)
Steven Rivkin

This brief describes estimation and measurement issues relevant to estimating the quality of instruction in the context of a cumulative model of learning. It also discusses implications for the use of value-added estimates in personnel and compensation matters. The discussion highlights the importance of accounting for student differences and the advantages of focusing on student achievement gains as opposed to differences in test scores. Despite potential shortcomings, value-added analysis can provide valuable information for use in evaluating and compensating teachers. The key is not to be cavalier about the information contained in value-added estimates but to understand the pieces that go into producing estimates of teacher quality.

Posted to Web: November 29, 2007Publication Date: November 29, 2007

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