Error Rates in Measuring Teacher and School Performance Based on Student Test Score Gains

Publisher: Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education
Jul 30, 2010
Peter Z. Schochet and Hanley S. Chiang

This paper addresses likely error rates for measuring teacher and school performance in the upper elementary grades using value-added models applied to student test score gain data. Using realistic performance measurement system schemes based on hypothesis testing, we develop error rate formulas based on OLS and Empirical Bayes estimators. Simulation results suggest that value-added estimates are likely to be noisy using the amount of data that are typically used in practice. Type I and II error rates for comparing a teacher’s performance to the average are likely to be about 25 percent with three years of data and 35 percent with one year of data. Corresponding error rates for overall false positive and negative errors are 10 and 20 percent, respectively. Lower error rates can be achieved if schools are the performance unit. The results suggest that policymakers must carefully consider likely system error rates when using value-added estimates to make high-stakes decisions regarding educators.