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06 November 2012

The "Value-added" Concept in Higher Ed

On our most recent annual Assessment Day, I first heard the term "value-added" mentioned in relation to higher education. I found it odd, then. Now, I find it scary. Essentially, value-added assessment claims to be able to measure the contributions of an individual instructor to a student's or students' learning over a semester, academic year, or other period of instruction. (However, the methods, models, and statistical tools used to do this often are not adequate to disentangle the teacher from other compounding contextual factors [i.e. parental involvement at home].) Short of all the methodological concerns, though, the very language and theory of the "value-added" is a radical re-framing of education. It represents a commodification of the institution of education and the labor of educators. This shift in perspective is in and of itself disconcerting. More on this later.

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