Book Review                                                    Page 40

Value-Added Measures in


What Every Educator Needs to Know   

by Douglas N. Harris, Harvard Education Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2011, 288 pp., $49.95 hardcover, $26.95 softcover


In Value-Added Measures in Education, author Douglas Harris offers the reader a thorough analysis of the issues surrounding the usage and interpretation of value-added measures in our schools. While Harris does an excellent job guiding the reader through the various components of the value-added measurement approach, what will serve educational leaders best is his balanced presentation of strengths and weaknesses and his suggestions for how to manage both sides of the debate and process.

Chapters “Using and Misusing Achievement Tests,” “Measuring Student Growth,” “Creating Value-Added Measures” and “Understanding Statistical Errors in Value-Added” offer an understandable and concise introduction to the nuts and bolts of the numbers and mathematics “underneath the hood” of the measures. In subsequent chapters, Harris offers a look at specific issues that surface when value-added measures are applied in schools.

Some chapters include scenarios and examples with real data from a school that follows his progression of the topic, a great feature. Superintendents and other instructional leaders will find the chapter “Addressing Key Trade-Offs, Misconceptions, and Questions” particularly helpful as an overview of the issues offered by proponents and dissenters regarding the use of value-added measures.

While we do not need to be psychometricians or quantitative analysts to understand and apply the information provided by value-added measures in our schools, we do need to have a solid understanding of the method’s technical aspects.. Not only does Harris’ book provide a great foundation for this knowledge, but it also offers a solid and balanced analysis of the application of these measures in our schools.

Reviewed by Lane B. Mills, associate professor of educational leadership, East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C.



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