Value-added scores

Althoug his news is from USA, it  will add to controversy around school league tables and such.

From NYT, Big Study Links Good Teachers to Lasting Gain, by Annie Lowrey:

Elementary- and middle-school teachers who help raise their students’ standardized-test scores seem to have a wide-ranging, lasting positive effect on those students’ lives beyond academics, including lower teenage-pregnancy rates and greater college matriculation and adult earnings, according to a new studythat tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years.

And some sobering remarks:

Still, translating value-added scores into policy is fraught with problems. Judging teachers by their students’ test scores might encourage cheating, teaching to the test or lobbying to have certain students in class, for instance.

“We are performing these studies in settings where nobody cares about their ranking — it does not change their pay or job security,” said Jesse Rothstein, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, whose work criticizing other value-added assessments unions frequently cite. “But if you start to change that, there is going to be a range of responses.”

I personally would propose an alternative way to assess school teachers: by their students’ performance at the next stage of education. For example, the best criterion to judge a GCSE level mathematics teacher is to look at numbers and academic performance of those his/her students who choose Mathematics/Further Mathematics as an A Level subject.

Finland’s School Success

What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success, an article by Anu Partanen in The Atlantic.

A quote:

For starters, Finland has no standardized tests. The only exception is what’s called the National Matriculation Exam, which everyone takes at the end of a voluntary upper-secondary school, roughly the equivalent of American high school.

Instead, the public school system’s teachers are trained to assess children in classrooms using independent tests they create themselves. All children receive a report card at the end of each semester, but these reports are based on individualized grading by each teacher. Periodically, the Ministry of Education tracks national progress by testing a few sample groups across a range of different schools.

As for accountability of teachers and administrators, Sahlberg shrugs. “There’s no word for accountability in Finnish,” he later told an audience at the Teachers College of Columbia University. “Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted.”