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Determining Attribution: Holding Teachers Accountable for Student Growth

Abstract

"New state and federal policies, such as the Race to the Top program, have redefined accountability to require that states develop and use performance-based teacher evaluation systems to inform decisions on professional development, employment, and compensation. If teacher performance focuses on student test scores, states and districts must have a mechanism for linking those test scores to the teachers who taught those students.

This paper summarizes key issues that states and districts implementing growth and value-added models for teacher evaluation may wish to consider, along with practical examples of options for implementation. It also focuses on issues related to linking students to teachers, a concept commonly referred to as attribution.

The authors make the following conclusions:

  • There are several considerations within a set of attribution rules; these may include accounting for how much time a student spent in a teacher's class, how many relevant courses a student had, and how to define teacher of record.

  • Rules for attribution can vary, depending on whether a student had one or many teachers of record in a given year.

  • In practice, there are a number of ways to measure refined student-teacher data linkages, depending on what information is available or can be collected through existing or new data systems."

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