Value added : from policy to classroom practice
Using a case-study methodology, this thesis enquires into the development of value-added from policy to classroom practice in a comprehensive school in the North of England. The study is unique in that it examines the work of teachers in relation to policy with a special focus on the extent to which value-added measures can be used to inform an understanding of what is going on at classroom level. It not only links quantitative and qualitative research paradigms, but does so at a level that has received relatively little attention and at a dramatic juncture in the history of teachers' professional lives. A literature survey shows that although originally conceived as a research tool, value-added was subsequently 'adopted' by secondary schools principally in response to government-imposed 'league tables'. A national value-added scheme has yet to be developed but, in a shift of policy, the government now promotes the use of value-added measures in the new Threshold Assessments of teachers. Value-added data for core subjects for seven years have been analysed at class level. Pupils in 'top' sets on average obtain positive residuals whilst in 'bottom' sets they are mostly negative. It is shown that this is partly a statistical artefact and therefore not a true reflection of teacher effectiveness. However, when teachers are interviewed they frequently reveal positive attitudes towards upper sets and the opposite with the lower ones. When value-added scores are considered alongside teacher interview data there are cases where residuals might be indicative of teacher performance but there are no universal patterns. Although there are some indications that pedagogical practice and teachers' backgrounds are linked with the performance of classes, it is concluded that the use of value-added data in the Threshold Assessment of teachers is flawed. Suggestions are made for further research including the use of value-added measures at classroom level.