Assessment Reform Tools: Research, Books and More, November 2012

“Value Added” Instability

In “On the Stability (or not) of Being Irreplaceable,”  researcher Bruce Baker excoriates a report from The New Teacher Project that labels teachers whose “value added” scores place them in the top 20% as “irreplaceables.”

Baker’s study of five years data from New York City reveals great instability in ranking teachers based on student test scores. Baker finds that only one year after being ranked in the top 20%, many “irreplaceables” have dropped below that level. After five years, “Of the thousands of teachers for whom ratings exist for each year, there are 14 in math and 5 in ELA that stay in the top 20% for each year!” See

Sadly, the incessant debunking of “value added” and “growth” measures has had little impact on policymaker thinking, particularly in the U.S. Department of Education. For more analysis, see FairTest’s fact sheet, 

Costs and Consequences of Common Core, RTTT and Waivers

Even with Race to the Top money, the feds could up paying only about 10% of the costs of Common Core exams and testing the students of every teacher in every subject, according to a New York superintendents’ report. The study analyzes the costs of tests, computers and broadband installation, as well as the educational consequences, such as more testing time and weakened curriculum and instruction.

These costs are escalating even as state and local funding diminishes. Teachers and programs face cuts to pay for more testing.

The report is relevant to any state or district that is participating in the multi-state exams, won Race to the Top, or obtained a waiver from NCLB. Go to, then look for Federal Mandates on Local Education: Costs and Consequences – Yes, it’s a Race, but is it in the Right Direction? Discussion Brief #8 – Fall 2012. The references are separately posted. For more on Common Core, see

Testing Hurts Children of Color

Lisa Delpit’s new book sharply criticizes the harmful consequences of standardized tests for African American and Latino/a youth. Multiplication is for White People: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children points out, “We can educate all children if we want to. To do so, we must first stop trying to quantify their capacity.”

In Chapter 8, “How Would a Fool Do It? Assessment,” Delpit explores how cultural variation powerfully influences test accuracy. She concludes, “Assessment [for students and teachers] is considerably more complex than what can be gleaned from paper-and-pencil tests.” She calls for teachers to collaboratively develop relevant, engaging, academically strong curriculum, instructional methods and assessments.

Another review and ordering links are at For FairTest’s perspective, see