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Dara Shifrer

Research Findings

What is the “Value-Added” of teachers? How test scores perpetuate false understandings of the work of teachers and of the process of learning

February 25, 2021

As a middle school math teacher, I taught at a school serving a wealthy student body and my students had incredibly high test scores. But I had also taught at a school where the majority of students were eligible for free or reduced lunch and my students had incredibly low test scores. In the low-poverty school, I was seemingly a very effective teacher—yet, in the high-poverty school, I was seemingly a very low-quality teacher.

This experience led me to a career as a sociologist focusing on inequities in education. In my most recent study, I investigated the use of test scores to assess the effectiveness of teachers.

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