Value-added model (VAM) scholars on using VAMs for teacher evaluation after the passage of the every student succeeds act

Matthew Ryan Lavery, Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, Tray Geiger, Margarita Pivovarova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background/Context: The Race to the Top federal initiatives and requirements surrounding waivers of No Child Left Behind promoted expanded use of value-added models (VAMs) to evaluate teachers. Even after passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) relaxed these requirements, allowing more flexibility and local control, many states and districts continue to use VAMs in teacher evaluation systems, suggesting that they consider VAMs a valid measure of teacher effectiveness. Scholars in the fields of economics, education, and quantitative methods continue to debate several aspects of VAMs’ validity for this purpose, however. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to directly ask the most experienced VAM scholars about validity of VAM use in teacher evaluation based on the aspects of validity described in the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing and found in a review of high-quality peer-reviewed literature on VAMs. Participants: We invited the 115 scholars listed as an author or coauthor of one or more of the 145 articles published on evaluating teachers with VAMs that have been published in prominent peer-reviewed journals between 2002 and implementation of ESSA in 2016. In this article, we analyze data from 36 respondents (12 economists, 13 educators, and 11 methodologists) who rated themselves as “experienced scholars,” “experts,” or “leading experts” on VAMs. Research Design: This article reports both quantitative and qualitative analyses of a survey questionnaire completed by experienced VAM scholars. Findings: Analyses of 44 Likert-scale items indicate that respondents were generally neutral or mixed toward the use of VAMs in teacher evaluation, though responses from educational researchers were more critical of VAM use than were responses from economists and quantitative methodologists. Qualitative analysis of free response comments suggests that participants oppose exclusive or high-stakes use of VAMs but are more supportive of their use as a component of evaluation systems that use multiple measures. Conclusions: These findings suggest that scholars and stakeholders from different disciplines and backgrounds think about VAMs and VAM use differently. We argue that it is important to understand and address stakeholders’ multiple perspectives to find the common ground on which to build consensus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-85
Number of pages24
JournalTeachers College Record
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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