Ecologies of education quality

Beth Graue, Katherine Kresin Delaney, Anne Sontag Karch


Accountability in education has prompted policy makers and practitioners to focus on data use for instructional and organizational decision-making. The popular media have seized on Value Added (VA) measures as a key type of data use for reforming U.S. schools. Among education researchers, however, there are both critics and proponents. We examined data use by the district leaders and staff members of 12 schools in a large urban district, with attention to the role VA metrics play in their decisions and their conceptions of themselves. VA is only one of many types of data that can be used to portray quality. While there was a soft relationship between VA and classroom quality measured by CLASS, we found that understanding the schools’ contexts, particularly the use of resources and the coherence of actions to improve student achievement, greatly enhanced the power of our descriptions. As a result, we suggest that policies promoting multidimensional approaches to quality will better capture the complexity of education.


value added, quality, ecological framework, data use, reform

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Copyright (c) 2019 Beth Graue, Katherine Kresin Delaney, Anne Sontag Karch

Contact EPAA//AAPE at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College