Value-Added and Student Growth Measures

Flexibility and responsiveness to client needs and constraints

AIR has a robust infrastructure for estimating, evaluating, modifying, and enhancing any value-added model currently in use and is not tied to any particular growth or value-added models.

To help our clients meet their specific needs in this sensitive area of education data analysis and research, we work with them in a highly interactive process involving stakeholders across the educational spectrum to review and select a value-added model that best meets those needs. We help clients find an approach to measuring and reporting value added that is appropriate given their available data and policy priorities.

We first analyze a client’s student assessment and other data and help them determine which type of model(s) might be most appropriate given the available data. For instance, some models require the use of vertically scaled assessments, some rely on student demographic data, and some require linked data going back several years. In addition, the quality and completeness of teacher linkage data is often a challenge. We’ll evaluate the available data and use the results of that evaluation to inform recommendations on statistical models and model specifications.

Depending on the client’s needs and interests, we then typically estimate several different models in a “research” phase to test out various assumptions and variables. We evaluate model performance based on criteria we have developed that provide information on precision, explanatory power, and other key factors. We then work with the client and relevant stakeholders to select a final model for implementation. In our experience, this type of process results in a model that is valid, reliable, useful, and acceptable to teachers and administrators.

Capacity beyond the technical

AIR’s value added team includes strong technical capabilities, including statisticians, econometricians, and psychometricians. Value-added work is not just about methodology, however. Teachers and other stakeholders need to believe in it and understand it. We have a team with a wide range of experience, including former educators with strong capacity to provide technical assistance and communication support, with input from our technical staff. Some firms may focus more narrowly on the technical aspects of calculating value-added measures, but we provide our clients with more comprehensive expertise and implementation services that are important for successful implementation, such as professional development, training, and development of communication materials. AIR also provides full documentation of its methods to ensure complete transparency, which is critical for the credibility of these measures.