February 2014

IZA DP No. 7973: A Comparison of Growth Percentile and Value-Added Models of Teacher Performance

published in: Statistics and Public Policy, 2015, 2(1), e1034820

School districts and state departments of education frequently must choose between a variety of methods to estimating teacher quality. This paper examines under what circumstances the decision between estimators of teacher quality is important. We examine estimates derived from growth percentile measures and estimates derived from commonly used value-added estimators. Using simulated data, we examine how well the estimators can rank teachers and avoid misclassification errors under a variety of assignment scenarios of teachers to students. We find that growth percentile measures perform worse than value-added measures that control for prior year student test scores and control for teacher fixed effects when assignment of students to teachers is nonrandom. In addition, using actual data from a large diverse anonymous state, we find evidence that growth percentile measures are less correlated with value-added measures with teacher fixed effects when there is evidence of nonrandom grouping of students in schools. This evidence suggests that the choice between estimators is most consequential under nonrandom assignment of teachers to students, and that value-added measures controlling for teacher fixed effects may be better suited to estimating teacher quality in this case.