In this article, the authors provide a methodological critique of the current standard of value-added modeling forwarded in educational policy contexts as a means of measuring teacher effectiveness. Conventional value-added estimates of teacher quality are attempts to determine to what degree a teacher would theoretically contribute, on average, to the test score gains of any student in the accountability population (i.e., district or state). Everson, Feinauer, and Sudweeks suggest an alternative statistical methodology, propensity score matching, which allows estimation of how well a teacher performs relative to teachers assigned comparable classes of students. This approach more closely fits the appropriate role of an accountability system: to estimate how well employees perform in the job to which they are actually assigned. It also has the benefit of requiring fewer statistical assumptions—assumptions that are frequently violated in value-added modeling. The authors conclude that this alternative method allows for more appropriate and policy-relevant inferences about the performance of teachers.

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