January 7, 2012

Harvard study misses the mark

I have been known to complain about bad or misinterpreted research. Today, I came upon another flawed study, courtesy of education blogger, Joanne Jacobs.

In a post citing a Harvard study on so-called "great teachers," Jacobs reveals that lengthy research by some Harvard educators shows a connection between what the folks at Harvard refer to as "value-added" teaching and going to college and making money, among other things. The study suggests that if students have teachers who are better than average, then these students will make more money than the students who have had bad teachers.

The Harvard study is based on, brace yourself, standardized test results. A "value-added" teacher is one whose students improve their standardized test score from one year to the next. Students in the study are considered successful if they make more money than students who didn't have so-called "value-added" teachers or if the students with "good" teachers went to college or -- my personal favorite -- didn't get pregnant as a teenager.

Am I the only one who thinks this may be the biggest waste of time researchers have ever put into a study?


  1. It's not only a huge waste of time but furthers the damaging myth that standardized test score are worth anything or mean anything important. Sure there people who are better at standardized tests than others but to correlate that as the reason they are successful and make more money is ridiculous.

  2. You are spot on, Al. All the more reason we need to put a stop to this awful test.

  3. If you ace a test it tells you nothing. For every question you answer incorrectly, it may indicate faulty testing, but more importantly it shows where your weakness' are and how to improve.

  4. If the test is faulty, how can it offer any true results at all?