State Data Systems: Pennsylvania

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should have a data system that contributes some of the evidence needed to assess teacher effectiveness.

Meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). State Data Systems: Pennsylvania results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/PA-State-Data-Systems-8

Analysis of Pennsylvania's policies

Pennsylvania has a data system with the capacity to provide evidence of teacher effectiveness.

Pennsylvania has all three necessary elements of a student- and teacher-level longitudinal data system. The state has assigned unique student identifiers that connect student data across key databases across years and has assigned unique teacher identifiers that enable it to match individual teacher records with individual student records. It also has the capacity to match student test records from year to year in order to measure student academic growth.

Citation

Recommendations for Pennsylvania

Develop a clear definition of "teacher of record."
A definition of teacher of record is necessary in order to use the student-teacher data link for the purpose of providing value-added evidence of teacher effectiveness. Pennsylvania defines the teacher of record as any public school teacher with primary responsibilities for direct instruction, including the assignment of grades in one or more of the following core subjects: English, reading/language arts, math, science, foreign language, arts and social studies. However, to ensure that data provided through the state data system are actionable and reliable, Pennsylvania should articulate a more distinct definition of teacher of record and require its consistent use throughout the state.

State response to our analysis

Pennsylvania asserted that it uses the NCLB definition of teacher of record.

Last word

The state should consider whether its NCLB definition will be appropriate and suitable for performance-based teacher evaluations. The indication from states that are ahead in bringing these systems online is that their NCLB definitions need to be reconsidered for this purpose.  

Research rationale

The Data Quality Campaign tracks the development of states' longitudinal data systems by reporting annually on states' inclusion of 10 elements in their data systems. Among these 10 elements are the three key elements (Elements 1, 3 and 5) that NCTQ has identified as being fundamental to the development of value-added assessment. For more information, see http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org.

For information about the use of student-growth models to report on student-achievement gains at the school level, see P. Schochet and H. Chiang, "Error Rates in Measuring Teacher and School Performance Based on Student Test Score Gains." Mathematica Policy Research. Department of Education (2010); as well as The Commission on No Child Left Behind, "Commission Staff Research Report: Growth Models, An Examination Within the Context of NCLB," Beyond NCLB, 2007.

For information about the differences between accountability models, including the differences between growth models and value-added growth models, see Pete Goldschmidt, et al., "Policymakers' Guide to Growth Models for School Accountability: How Do Accountability Models Differ?" Council of Chief State School Officers' Report, 2005 at: http://www.ccsso.org/publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=287

For information regarding the methodologies and utility of value-added analysis see, C. Koedel and J. Betts, "Does Student Sorting Invalidate Value-Added Models of Teacher Effectiveness? An Extended Analysis of the Rothstein Critique." Education Finance and Policy Vol. 6 No. 1 (2011), D. Goldhaber and M. Hansen, "Assessing the Potential of Using Value-Added Estimates of Teacher Job Performance for Making Tenure Decisions." Urban Institute (2010), and S. Glazerman et al, "Evaluating Teachers; The Important Role of Value-Added." Brookings Brown Center Task Group on Teacher Quality (2011); Glazerman, Steven et. al., Passing Muster: Evaluating Teacher Evaluation Systems, The Brookings Brown Center Task Group on Teacher Quality (2011); Harris, D.N.  (2009). "Teacher value-added: Don't end the search before it starts," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 28(4), pp. 693-699. Hill, H.C. (2009). "Evaluating value-added models: A validity argument approach," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 28(4), pp. 700-709; Kane, T.J. & Staiger, D.O. (2008). Estimating teacher impacts on student achievement: An experimental evaluation. NBER Working Paper W14607. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.

There is no shortage of studies using value-added methodologies by researchers including Thomas J. Kane, Eric Hanushek, Steven Rivkin, Jonah E. Rockoff and Jessie Rothstein. See also Kane, T.J. 2008. Estimating teacher impacts on student achievement: An experimental evaluation. Working Paper 14607. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research; Hanushek, Erik A. and Steven G. Rivkin. "Generalizations about using value-added measures of teacher quality." American Economic Review (May 2010); Rothstein, Jesse. 2010. "Teacher Quality in Educational Production: Tracking, Decay, and Student Achievement." Quarterly Journal of Economics, 25(1); Kane, Thomas J. and Douglas O. Staiger. 2008. "Estimating Teacher Impacts on Student Achievement: An Experimental Evaluation." National Bureau of Economic Research W14607, December. Rivkin, Steven G.; Eric A. Hanushek and John F. Kain. 2005. "Teachers, Schools, and  Academic Achievement." Econometrica, 73(2), pp. 417-58; Hanushek, Eric A. 2010. "The Difference is Teacher Quality." In Waiting for "Superman": How We Can Save America's Failing Public Schools, Karl Weber, ed. New York: Public Affairs.

See also NCTQ's "If Wishes Were Horses" by Kate Walsh at: http://www.nctq.org/p/publications/docs/wishes_horses_20080316034426.pdf and the National Center on Performance Incentives at: www.performanceincentives.org.

For information about the limitations of value-added analysis, see Jesse Rothstein, "Do Value-Added Models Add Value? Tracking, Fixed Effects, and Casual Inference." Princeton University and NBER. (2007) as well as Dale Ballou, "Value-added Assessment: Lessons from Tennessee," Value Added Models in Education: Theory and Applications, ed. Robert W. Lissitz (Maple Grove, MN: JAM Press, 2005).See also Dale Ballou, "Sizing Up Test Scores," Education Next, Summer 2002; 2(2).