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Hard economic times signify tough budgets for schools in terms of maintaining expenses on the operations of personnel. This has led to budget cut-offs and subsequent layoff of teaching staffs in various schools in the district. There are various methods that the district can apply to reduce the number of teachers to suit the available budget. In this case, the district is supposed to lay off 15% of the teaching work force. Therefore, we will be looking at how value added approach of evaluating the performance of teacher can be used as a strategy to lay off teachers with low VA and retain those with high VA (Glazerman et al., 2010).

Value-Added Method, its purpose and its categorization of teachers

Value added method is an evaluation approach that attempts to measure the effectiveness of teachers by means of gauging how they contribute to the overall performance or achievement of students (Glazerman et al., 2010). The main aim of value added teacher evaluation approach is to enable the national movement or the district council to evaluate teachers in order to make conclusive decisions such as compensation rates, dismissal, as well as promotion-based on what the teachers contribute to the student’s test scores. The approach is adopted purposely by various federal governments, states and other local district policy makers to quantify the effectiveness of the teaching procedures. This is in order to retain and promote those teachers that highly contribute to the success of students while at the same time consider dismissing those teachers that contribute less or little to the success of students. This approach is meant to enhance the quality of the teaching force in terms of its contribution to the success of the learners (Glazerman et al., 2010).

The variables that are measured during the evaluation using value added approach are mainly student-based. In this aspect, the approach measures individual student growth and also implements various evaluation systems that assist in using student growth as a key factor when evaluating their teachers. In addition, the approach records students’ growth in annual evaluations and uses these evaluations to link teacher preparations and other credentialing programs for purposes of public reporting as well as alteration of existing programs. The students’ data obtained can as well be incorporated into other advanced schedules such as coaching, planning and professional development (Corcoran, 2010).

Value added method categorizes teachers as either low value added teachers or high value added teachers. This grading is based on a curve where percentiles are used to indicate whether a teacher fell in the distribution of student test-score gains or not. Teachers who are categorized as low value added are likely to face issues which relate to low compensation, lack of promotion and sometimes dismissal. On the other hand, teachers who are graded as high value added are subjects to status improvement in terms of compensation increase promotion to higher ranks and are likely to be retained in a situation where retrenchment of personnel is mandatory. In this aspect, teachers who are categorized as low grade value added are said to be ineffective while those who are categorized as high grade value added are regarded as effective (Glazerman et al., 2010).   

Arguments for using value added approach or method

Teacher value added evaluation approach enhances motivation since it measures the effectiveness of teachers in terms of the delivered outputs. A teacher who records an improved output through high contribution to the success of students will be motivated to even put in extra efforts to maintain or improve further on the test-score results for his or her students. In such situation, other teachers are also motivated to work hard and ensure that their students perform better. The force behind motivation is due to the outcomes that are associated with better outcomes, which include increased performance, promotion and job security. It is these factors that motivate teachers to improve their performance (Glazerman et al., 2010).

Value added approach of evaluation is important when a school is in need to retain teachers who have the required expertise and ability to maintain high performance in class as opposed to retaining teachers with long experience in the teaching field. The advantage with this approach is that it eliminates teachers who are not recording high performance even if they have been teaching for long. A teacher may have a long teaching experience and still incapable of enhancing improved performance for students. Therefore, this approach helps to solve the problems in the traditional approach of retaining teachers based on experience where schools could lay off competent teachers simply because they have no experience and retain experienced teachers who may not be able to enhance high performance for students. The approach looks keenly into teacher’s strength, complementarities and weakness.

Value added approach in teacher evaluation also acts as the main link of decisions taken to the results of teacher-evaluation outcomes. For instance, value added evaluation approach is less subjective in regard to the tenure. Regarding lay-offs, value added approach becomes beneficial to students, the community as well as the parents (Corcoran, 2010). Looking at the payment of bonuses, value added approach will ensure that bonuses are only given to teachers exhibiting effectiveness in their teaching work through their contribution to the success of students. The value added evaluation approach also acts as an association between what the results of the value added evaluation and the evaluation made on teachers by their seniors (principals) as well as the students (Glazerman et al., 2010). 

Arguments against using value added approach or method

Value added approach based on the measurements gauging the outcomes or results of students without necessarily considering the input or the effort put in by teachers in the course of the teaching process. This means that this evaluation approach is biased since a teacher may suffer consequences that are not as a result of his or her fault. It is possible that poor performance or low test results may as well be due to failure of the students to work hard or adhere to what the teacher taught in class. This approach is a one way evaluation measure where by the teacher bears all the blames in case the expected success is not attained (Corcoran, 2010). 

There are so many factors that contribute to the success of students some of which include high ability of students themselves, availability of resources, greater involvement by the family and high out-of school support. Therefore, success in such a case does not necessarily mean that the teacher is effective. It is a situation that elicits controversy over this method or approach of evaluating the effectiveness of teachers by looking at the tail end results without considering other contributing factors. You will find that teachers who teach under poor success contributing factors are likely to deliver low success and suffer the consequences of being alleged as not being effective (Glazerman et al., 2010).

Value added approach and its methods have been criticized in regard to the concerns of statistical validity, reliability and the corruptibility of its measures. The critics also borrow from Campbell’s law through arguing that the more times a quantitative social indicator is employed in the process of making social decisions, the more it is to encounter corruption pressures. When this happens, such an indicator becomes susceptible to distortion and corruption of the intended social processes under monitor or evaluation (Corcoran, 2010).

Issues have also been raised against value added evaluation methods following the use of independent and dependent variables. Although the use of dependent variable gives rise to some of the best value added models; the fact is that such models can not be able to handle teachers who are not teaching standardized tests such as math and language arts. This means that not all subjects can be evaluated and this is detrimental to the whole process of decision making. Although the use of independent variable may test or evaluate teachers from all corners, a lot of errors are involved which lead to poor evaluation outcomes. In order to use this approach, it is mandatory to have the initial measure of the student’s performance. This means that students who may not posses this kind of pre-test information may not be used to evaluate the effectiveness of their teachers, especially if random sample from a pool of students is used where students are randomly assigned to their teachers for value added evaluation purposes (Glazerman et al., 2010).

Value added approach of evaluating teachers has also proved to produce varying results (results which are not stable) when repeated experiments are carried out over time. Since the results vary even on different tests of the same subject, it is difficult to make conclusive decisions. The year to year correlations are also low. For instance, only a small percentage of teachers appearing in top five in one year are likely to appear in the top five of the following year (Glazerman et al., 2010).

The criteria to be used by the district to reduce the teaching force

Since the district’s main aim is to retain teachers who are more likely to maintain expertise in a subject and make sure that all classes are taught by specialists of respective subjects, the only criterion to be used is teacher value added approach. In this approach, the district has to systematically evaluate teachers based on their effectiveness and their contribution to the success of the students (Glazerman et al., 2010). Those teachers who will prove to make an improvement on the test scores of students over the time associated with them will be retained since they will be high grade VA, while those, whose association with students will lead to reduction in test-score results overtime will be dismissed. In case all teachers produce a positive VA, then the dismissal will be based on the level of VA produced. Those teachers that will produce the highest VA will be retained while those that will produce low VA will be dismissed till the required number teaching force is attained (Corcoran, 2010).

For instance, in order to reduce the workforce by 15%, the district should employ the following plan:

All the teachers will be associated with students and the test scores for students evaluated for determination of VA. 10% VA will be expected for effectiveness of teachers but this percentage will be subjected to alteration depending on the VA outcome. The teachers will then be eliminated based on the level of attainment of target VA till 15% of the total teachers are laid off. This procedure will enable the district to retain the most competitive and effective teachers in terms of their VA, expertise and contribution to the overall success (Glazerman et al., 2010).

Conclusion

Considering this case where the district had to reduce the working force (teaching staff) by 15% and at the same time retain teachers (specialists) who have the expertise and ability to maintain high performance in subjects, it is indeed wise to take the value added evaluation approach as opposed to the traditional approach of retaining teachers based on experience. This is the most appropriate measure of teacher’s effectiveness (optimal approach for the layoffs) since it considers teacher’s strength, complementarities and weaknesses. Thus, school districts would be better off, if they apply value-added approach in downsizing their teaching staffs by about fifteen percent.

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