A Crititique of Student Value-Added Models

Has Bob Bowdon (of The Cartel fame) been reading too much Bruce Baker?

It can hardly be denied that there are factors outside a student’s control that might affect his grades. How smart he is, how much his parents support education, how nutritious the food in his home is, and how much his older brother distracts him with PlayStation 3.

Some parents might put on SportsCenter at 11pm Eastern time. Others don’t. It’s hardly a level playing field.

Since a student has no control over these kinds of things, and since some students face a lot more of these obstacles than others, grading simply isn’t fair. Why should I get a better grade than you just because my home life makes it easier for me to perform? And as we’ve learned from teachers’ unions, it’s better to have no evaluation system than one that could be unfair.