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Building a Better Teacher

Understanding Value-Added Models in the Law of Teacher Evaluation

Mark A. Paige

Mark Paige takes an in-depth look at the interaction of Value Added Models (VAMs) and the law of teacher evaluation. It notes that the hasty adoption of VAMs in evaluation and employment law actually complicates efforts to improve teacher quality, especially at the local level. In brief, VAMs’ costs vastly outweigh their benefits. The book advocates for a complete removal of VAMs in high-stakes decisions. It sets forth numerous recommendations for administrators and policymakers to enable them to effectively deal with the complications created by VAMs. « less more »
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 142Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
978-1-4758-0729-5 • Hardback • July 2016 • $60.00 • (£39.95)
978-1-4758-0730-1 • Paperback • July 2016 • $30.00 • (£19.95)
978-1-4758-0731-8 • eBook • July 2016 • $28.00 • (£18.95)
Mark A. Paige, is a professor of public policy at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. He has represented school districts in a variety of education law matters in various state and federal jurisdictions, including the New Hampshire Supreme Court. He holds a law degree and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Chapter One: VAMs: What Are They Good For?
Chapter Two: A Complete Circle: Teacher Evaluation, VAMs, and Employment Decisions
Chapter Three: VAMs Under the Law: Unfair but Rational?
Chapter Four: Pre-existing Conditions: Legal Deference to School Administrators Judgment of Teacher Performance
Chapter Five: VAMs, Collective Bargaining, and Arbitration: More Legal Headaches for Administrators?
Chapter Six: Collective Bargaining: Exploring Local Mechanisms to Mitigate VAM’s Collateral Damage
Chapter Seven: The Appropriate Role of Courts in Creating for Fair Evaluations
Chapter Eight: Lessons Learned: What Policymakers Can Learn from Education Professionals
About the Author
Mark Paige’s Building a Better Teacher is an excellent resource for practitioners, policymakers, and scholars who seek to understand how legal mechanisms like the courts and collective bargaining impact the application of VAM in policy and practice. It is well written, logically constructed, and complete without being overwhelming. The law is reviewed, but a law degree is not necessary to understand the discussion. Chapters 1-7 provide a very useful Key Points section summarizing each chapter. The book is well resourced (326 footnotes) for those readers who wish to delve deeper into VAMs, teacher evaluation, and the law. One of the strengths of the book is its exploration of the limits of the courts in effectuating a just and fair response to policies using VAM in high stakes, adverse personnel decisions. . . .This is a volume that deserves a place on scholars’, practitioners’, and policy makers’ bookshelf. It raises important issues that can inform the important discussions about what processes and data best support high stakes employment decisions.
Education Law Reporter

Paige’s book is a clear-headed and highly readable addition to the growing body of literature concerning local or statewide adoption of the Value Added model for evaluating teachers. It rightly identifies VAM-inspired evaluation systems for what they are: veritable sorcerers of ersatz rationality which have too often cast a spell cast over education policymakers. Paige’s book should be required reading for those stakeholders who are truly interested in continuing a thoughtful and informed debate on the often complex issue of teacher evaluation.
John Rumel, JD, associate professor, University of Idaho College of Law

The ability to validly assess and react to the effectiveness of individual teachers is one of the critical components of increasing student achievement in America's schools. Dr. Mark Paige’s book provides an analysis of the efficacy of Value Added measures of teacher effectiveness. His analysis approached from legal, educational and social capital perspectives is insightful and well reasoned. Dr. Mark Paige's broad background in both education and law and thoughtful style of analysis makes his book a major contribution to the field of education policy and leadership.
Art Rainwater, superintendent (Retired), Madison Metropolitan School District

Value Added Measures have swept much of the national education policy landscape. Paige has put together a thoughtful legal and policy analysis of this issue. The work is detailed enough to be worthwhile to attorneys and policy makers. More importantly, it is well written enough to be useful to anyone thinking about the issues of measuring student achievement.
Julie Underwood, former General Counsel and Associate Executive Director to the National School Board Association (NSBA); Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

In clear and thorough terms, Dr. Paige reveals the many problems with the use of VAMs as a measure of educator effectiveness. From their temporal instability to their technical complexity, Dr. Paige questions the ability of VAMs to providing any true insight into effective teaching practices. As an educator who has witnessed first-hand the distrust, confusion and resentment that the mandated use of VAMs has fostered, I find Dr. Paige’s work to be an important step in restoring professionalism and humanity to the evaluation of teachers in our schools.

Sean C. Feeney, PhD, president, Nassau County (New York) High School Principals Association

Improving the education of our youth in a complex, ever-changing world is a daunting task. This book investigates the role of value added models (VAMs) in improving teacher quality. Frankly, it is frightening to think that so much significance may be placed on statistically defective VAMs instead of the professional judgment of the evaluators to make high stakes employment decisions. It was refreshing to learn that even the courts have always placed a high value on the professional judgment of administrators. After reading this book one can only conclude that taxpayer dollars would be better spent on improving the expertise of administrators with respect to best practices and their study of how to best use VAMS, if at all, to enhance teacher quality rather than creating a flawed system that will not lead to the outcomes we all want…improved teacher quality. This is an engaging and thought-provoking book that I would recommend to all policy makers who are interested in improving student achievement.
Carol A. Woodbury, superintendent of schools, Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District (Massachusetts)