Value-added: Has the data been cooked?

A report published this month by UC Berkeley economist Jesse Rothstein raises serious ethical questions about the objectivity of an analysis of “value-added” models by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In his report, “Review of Learning About Teaching, ” Rothstein concludes that The Gates Foundation’s “Measures of Effective Teaching” (MET) Project contains, “troubling indications that the Project’s conclusions were predetermined.” Rothstein asserts that “the Gates Foundation has widely circulated a stand-alone policy brief (with the same title as the research report) that omits the full analysis, so even careful readers will be unaware of the weak evidentiary basis for its conclusions.”

To promote “value-added” as a measure of teacher effectiveness, The LA Times hired Richard Buddin, a professor at UCLA, and paid him an undisclosed sum to conduct a statistical analysis of student test data. Buddin has himself been rated as ineffective by his own students on a website where UCLA students rate teachers.

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