Harvard Study of Value Added Teachers Misses the Mark

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woman-teacher-with-students

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?

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Mark Barnes is the author of many education books, including Bestseller Hacking Education, part of his Hack Learning Series, books that solve big problems with simple ideas. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and student-centered learning. Join more than 100,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.
2 Comments
  1. Suzanne Crockett

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