A Comparison of Value-Added Accountability Systems with Accountability Systems that Use the Success of Economically Disadvantaged Students as a Key Accountability Indicator
Barlow, Kevin Lynn
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An effective and acceptable accountability system for education continues to puzzle educators and researchers. The focus of the present study was on two high profile accountability system models: status-based models and value-added models. Status-based models are those models that only considered the status (pass/fail) of students on achievement tests. Value-added models are those that make an attempt to show the achievement gains that students are making and therefore attribute those gains to the students? educational experiences (e.g., teachers and schools). In particular, the present study investigated how the two models might rank campuses differently when accounting for the low SES indicators of both students and schools. The present study investigated three independent, but connected studies of these two models. First, a comparison of value-added models is presented. Second, a Monte Carlo study is presented comparing the rankings of a status-based accountability system model and a value-added accountability system model. Third, the results from a field study where data from a Texas school district was used to compare the rankings of a status-based accountability system model and a value-added accountability system model are presented. In the latter two studies, evidence is presented showing that the two models ranked campuses differently within each district. This was especially evident when a district had a wide distribution of the campus percentages of low SES students throughout the district. The effect low SES students had on accountability is noticeable in the ranking of the campuses. Campuses with a high percentage of low SES students performed lower under the status-based accountability system model than under the value-added accountability system model. Identifying the correct accountability system model to use in evaluating our schools is extremely important in this age of accountability. Teachers, principals, and superintendents are evaluated on the performance of their students, schools, and districts, and in some cases pay incentives are also attached to these evaluations. The present study shows the need for more research in accountability systems in order to ensure that these evaluations are fair.