ON-Lion Letter
"There is information being produced in Wisconsin today that can inform teachers, principals and the public on the impact individual schools are having on student achievement," begins a June report from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI).  "More importantly, there is information available that teachers and principals could use to evaluate the effectiveness of instructional approaches. Despite its availability, the vast majority of Wisconsin school districts are not using this information in a meaningful fashion.

Using Value-Added Analysis to Raise Student Achievement in Wisconsin, by Sarah Archibald and WPRI research director Michael Ford, recommends that value-added analyses of student test scores being conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's own Value-Added Research Center "be given to the principal and teacher of every publicly funded K-12 pupil in Wisconsin.

"Value-added analysis is a method of understanding how much a student's achievement has grown during a school year," Archibald and Ford write.  "It is not a test that students take, but rather, it is a method of analyzing the results of standardized assessments to help separate out the contribution of the school -- or, depending on the specification of the model, the teacher -- to the student's progress.  Unlike a raw test score, a value-added analysis can isolate the real impact a school and/or teacher is having on academic achievement.  In the right hands, this information can be a powerful tool that teachers and schools can use to make educational decisions that benefit students.

"After decades of testing pupils in Wisconsin," they conclude, "it is time to ensure that useful data reach those most important in determining student success. The statewide, uniform use of value-added analyses already being done in Wisconsin is a step toward giving teachers and principals additional tools to meet the needs of Wisconsin pupils."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports WPRI.
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