Value-Added NAPLANs?

On the eve of public reporting of NAPLAN tests throughout Australia, Ben Jensen (ex-OECD, now running the education program at the Grattan Institute) has a new report on the topic. His key argument is for value-added scores (which will be possible when/if we get 2010 test data). The money quotes:

In this report we advocate that:

The current measures of school performance published on the ‘My School’ website should be replaced with value-added measures of school performance because:

  • Their greater accuracy creates a fairer system, particularly for schools in lower socio-economic communities;
  • A focus on student progress rather than performance at a single point in time serves a variety of policy objectives and is more effective in improving instruction and school education.

School principals and teachers should be empowered to use value-added measures to improve instruction and school programs. To achieve this:

  • A user-friendly information technology system should be developed that allows school principals and teachers to better analyse and then act upon their own performance data;
  • Education and training to incorporate performance assessment into instruction and school programs should be provided;
  • Resources should be provided for teachers and schools to develop programs based on value-added measures and disseminate best practice.

Value-added measures of school performance should become an important benchmark in school evaluation. School evaluators should make their qualitative judgements of good practice in the context of value-added performance measures;

Value-added measures of student progress should be the basis for categorising schools as under-performing. Developmental steps should be explicit, with additional support for under-performing schools; and

School principals should be granted autonomy to effectively lead the school for which they are being held accountable. Individual teachers have continually been shown to have the greatest impact upon student performance and school principals should be empowered to determine who teaches in their school.

The full report is here.

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One Response to Value-Added NAPLANs?

  1. Barbara Leigh says:

    What an excellent article!! In my opinion, using value-added measurements is critical in evaluating student performance. It also addresses the phenomenon of the wombats (those students who will be “encouraged” to be absent for the NAPLAN test because it will lower the performance of the school). If such students could be shown to have markedly improved – albeit to a low score, their teachers would be justifiably rewarded. By the same token, those teachers who undertake extension work for bright students could be similarly rewarded.
    There is still quite a bit of tweaking to do on the My School site, and this article makes an important contribution.

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