Value-added requires comparing test scores across grade levels, something that has always flummoxed me as the California Department of Education website specifically says these test may not be compared across grade levels:
When comparing results for the CSTs, you are limited to comparisons within the same subject and grade; that is, grade two English–language arts (ELA) in 2010 compared to grade two ELA in 2011 or grade six mathematics in 2010 compared to grade six mathematics in 2011. No direct comparisons should be made between grades or between content areas.The publication of value-added scores caused outrage amongst teachers who rightfully felt unfairly and inaccurately represented. Thus, it came as a surprise to some readers when the L.A. Times published an editorial questioning the merits of standardized testing and the impact it has on creativity and innovation in schools.
The editorial, "Education's pendulum: Thinkers or test takers?", suggests that the nations able to balance academic rigor with creativity will come out ahead:
It's not easy to figure out how schools can balance creativity with academic rigor, productive thinking with knowledge. The nations that do so will have the competitive edge in the future.That Obama continues to force high-stakes testing and other punitive systems on our schools through Race To The Top while the rest of the world is waking up to the perils of the testing-factory system of education is a sign of just how unaware politicians are of the current state of education.
Value-added might sound good politically and high-stakes tests might seem like a strong stance on education, but I too am going with the nations that teach thinking and creativity as the ultimate winners.
So, rather than value-added, add value to your society and reclaim public education!