- State requirements to include student achievement growth in teacher evaluations are prompting the development of alternative ways to measure growth in grades and subjects not covered by state assessments. These alternative growth measures use two primary approaches:
- (1) value-added models (VAMs) applied to end-of-course and commercial assessments; and
- (2) student learning objectives (SLOs) selected by teachers with the approval of their principals.
is limited, however, on how these alternative growth measures can be
used to evaluate teachers and on their costs and benefits. REL
Mid-Atlantic sought to develop new information by conducting case
studies to examine the implementation experiences of eight districts
that were early adopters of alternative measures of student growth.
District administrators, principals, teachers, and teachers’ union
representatives were interviewed for this study.
The study found that alternative growth measures have been used for many purposes other than teacher evaluation, but SLOs are unique in their use to adapt and improve instruction. Although the alternative measures show a wider range of teacher performance relative to previous evaluation systems without measures of student growth, evidence on the reliability and validity of alternative measures—especially SLOs—is limited.
- Districts implementing SLOs most often reported increased collaboration as a benefit, while alternative assessment-based VAMs were perceived as fairer than SLOs for making comparisons among teachers. Both types of alternative growth measures come with costs and implementation challenges. SLOs are substantially more labor-intensive relative to alternative-assessment based VAMs.