Harvard Study of Value Added Teachers Misses the Mark

Share with Friends


There’s nothing worse for education reform than bad or misinterpreted research, like the study shared by education blogger, Joanne Jacobs, about value added measure of teacher effectiveness.

In a post citing a Harvard study on so-called “great teachers,” Jacobs reveals that lengthy research by some Harvard educators shows a connection between what the folks at Harvard refer to as value added teaching and going to college and making money, among other things. The study suggests that if students have teachers who are better than average, then these students will make more money than the students who have had bad teachers.

The Harvard study is based on, brace yourself, standardized test results. A value added teacher is one whose students improve their standardized test score from one year to the next. Students in the study are considered successful if they make more money than students who didn’t have so-called value added teachers or if the students with “good” teachers went to college or — my personal favorite — didn’t get pregnant as a teenager.

Any study of personal success that is based on a standardized test is at best reckless and at worst dangerous.

Especially when it has the name Harvard attached to it, meaning the general public will take the results at face value. Another egregious error in this research is that success is measured by the girth of one’s wallet. So, if a student scores well on a test and joins the Peace Corps, was she omitted from the results?

I considered placing this post in our Brilliant or Insane (You Vote: B or I) category, but it appears so obviously insane, I decided against it.

Am I wrong?

The following two tabs change content below.
Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series -- books and other series that provide right-now solutions for teachers and learners. Mark is the author or publisher of dozens of books, including Bestseller Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Join more than 150,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge