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Raudenbush
is of interestto a parentselectinga school for herchildren.The second,or '"TypeB"
effect is of interestto districtor state administratorswho wish to hold school personnel accountablefor theircontributionsto studentoutcomes.RW describedplausible conditionsfor unbiasedestimationof Type A effects. In contrast,they found
the prospectsfor Type B effects unpromisinggiven the kind of data available in
accountabilitysystems.'
RW reasoned that the child's potential outcomes would be a function of preassignmentstudentcharacteristicsS, randomerrore, and two aspects of schools:
school context, C, and school practice,P. C includes the social environmentof the
school (e.g., the neighborhoodin which it is located) andthe social compositionof
the school. Teachersand administratorshave little or no controlover C, though C
might stronglycontributeto school effectiveness throughpeer interactions,parent
involvement, social norms, and the availability of role models (Coleman et al.,
1966; Willms, 1986; Lee & Bryk, 1989). In contrast,school leadersand teachers
do have substantialinfluenceover P, thoughP is likely also associatedwith C.
TypeA Effect
In termsof the Rubincausalmodel,theType A effect (of interestto parents)is the
andthat
differencebetweenchild i's potentialoutcomein schoolj, say Y1i(Si,C
,Pj,e11)
RW reasonedthat
child's potentialoutcomes in schoolj', thatis, Yij,(Si,Cj,,Pj,,eij,).
parentswould be indifferentregardingthe relativecontributionsof C and P to this
effect. Therefore,an experimentthat would reveal the Type A effect for parenti
wouldbe a studyin which studentshavinga commonS = Siwere randomlyassigned
to eitherschoolj or schoolj'.2 Treatmentassignmentwould be ignorable(independent of S) and so the expectedtreatmenteffect estimatefor comparingschoolsj and
one might
Withoutthebenefitof randomization,
j' would dependonly on Cj,Pj,Ci,,Pi,.
obtain an unbiasedestimate of the same causal effect by controllingfor observed
student-levelcovariatesX underthe assumptionof strongignorability,namely that
the potentialoutcomes are not associatedwith school assignmentaftercontrolling
for X. In particular,this assumptionimplies thatX capturesthe associationbetween
S andschoolassignment,so thatonly Cj,Pj,CjC,Pj,
contributesystematicallyto theestimatedschooleffects. TypeA effects arearguablyestimablewithtolerablysmallbias
because the data availableto school accountabilityanalystsinclude some Xs that
likely are extremelyimportantin explainingthe link between studentbackground
and school assignment.In particular,schools thatcollect historicaldataon student
achievementalong with ethnicityandpovertystatusprovideXs thatarelikely very
informativeaboutpotentialoutcomes.
TypeB Effect
In contrast,the Type B effect (of interestto districtor state officials) is the difference between child i's potentialoutcome in schoolj when school practiceP3 is
in operation,yielding
andthatchild's potentialoutcomes in school
RW reaPi, is in operationthat is, yielding Y1i(Si,Cj,Pj,eij).
j when school practiceYIo(Si,Cj,Pj,e*)
soned that district or state officials would not want to hold school personnel
122
Raudenbush
of whetherthatvalue is attributableto school contextor practiceor classroomcontext or practice.If we view the type A effect for a class to be the combinedresultof
school andclassroomcontextandpractice,this effect can be estimatedwithoutbias
conditionalon the strong ignorabilityassumptionthat student-levelcovariatesX
accountfor the associationbetweenpotentialoutcomesandclassroomassignment.
As BSW point out, care must be takenin estimatingand adjustingfor X in estimatingwhat I am calling Type A effects. They use a two-step procedure:estimate
a regressionusingX as covariatewith fixed effects of teachers.The coefficientsfor
X are then estimatesof the pooled, within-schoolcoefficient, often denotedPw.As
RW point out, this estimation can easily be accomplishedby centeringX within
teachers,obviatingthe need to enterteacherdummyvariables.In the second step,
an adjusteddependentY- Xp is used in the accountabilityanalysis.
Modeling Teacher and School Effects on Student Growth
As the previousdiscussionshows, it does not appearpossible to separateteacher
and school effects using currentlyavailable accountabilitydata. At one extreme,
one mightattributeall variationbetweenclassroomsto teachers.In thatview, mean
differences between schools are just differences in aggregateteacher effects. At
the other extreme, all variationbetween schools is attributableto variationin the
skill of school managementand other school organizationalfeatures, including
instructionalcoordinationacrossgrades,teachercollaboration,teachercontrol,and
school-level resources.In this view, teacherscan be held accountableonly for the
classroomvariationwithin schools. A rangeof views arelocatedon the continuum
between these two extremes,but these views cannotbe adjudicatedwithouta theory of what makes schools and teacherseffective and without a researchagenda
that explicitly assesses the causal effects at each level. In short, one needs good
estimates of Type B effects at each level, but these are inaccessible at eitherlevel
if the relevantschool and classroomprocesses are not observed.
So VAM are best aimed at assessing the Type A effect definedas the combined
effectsof contextandpracticeat the classroomand school levels. I believe it is useful to definethe potentialoutcomesassociatedwith this effect as a way of informing
model specification,evaluation,andinterpretation.
A useful way to do so is to view
each studentas possessing a smooth trajectorythat would describe that student's
growthif thatstudentencountered"average"teachersandschools.The TypeA effect
in any year is then definedas a deflectionfrom this expectedcurve. Of course this
assumesan equatedmetricover time, as these articlesemphasize.
This idea is displayed in Figure 1. The dashed line describes a hypothetical
student's expected trajectorygiven "average"schools and classrooms. This student encounters a "non-average"classroom (classroom j) at time t, yielding
observedachievementY(j) at time t + 1. If this studenthad insteadencounteredan
averageclassroomat time t, the outcomewould have been the counterfactualY'?)
The causaleffect associatedwith attendancein classroomj is then YI1This
Y~1.
seems straightforward
whom
enough.But whataboutthe causaleffect of teacherj',
our student experiences at time t + 1? Presumably
the combined
Yt 2 is
Yt?
124
Outcome
STime
t+l
t+2
deflection
Y)+,
Yt+1.
causal effect of having experiencedteachersj andj', but how should we decompose this combinedeffect into pieces attributableto the two teachers?McCafferty
et al. make an extremely useful contributionby parameterizinga "rateof decay"
in teachereffects over time. This enablesthe datato drivethe decompositionrather
thanassuminga priori thateffects are cumulativeand additive.
A Polynomial GrowthModel
To representthe conceptionof Figure 1 in the VAM, it seems sensible to represent each student'scounterfactualexpectedtrajectoryas a polynomialof appropriate degree.This implies a randomcoefficientmodel for studentgrowthaugmented
by a "deflectionmodel"for value added (Raudenbush& Bryk 2002). In contrast,
BSW use an unstructured
covariancematrixto representstudentcontributionsto the
covariancestructurewith addedrandomeffects of teachers.And McCaffreyet al.
expressa preferencefor the unstructuredcovariancestructureas more generalthan
the randomcoefficient model illustratedin Raudenbushand Bryk or "RB."RB's
illustrativeexample involved a polynomial of degree 1 or "straight-line"growth
model. McCaffreycriticize such a model for placing strongrestrictionson the vari125
Raudenbush
ance structure(the model implies increasing varianceif the correlationbetween
interceptand slope is positive). Yet RB never recommendeda life-long commitmentto the straight-linemodel! In reality,the polynomialapproachallows a range
of models varyingfrom simple (e.g., the straight-linemodel) to complex. Indeed,
if the numberof time points is T, then a T- 2 degreepolynomialwith time-specific
within-subjectvariancesis a saturatedmodel identicalto the unstructuredmodel. A
good argumentcan be made for selecting the lowest-orderpolynomialthatreasonably fits the data.One may anticipatethatthe simplermodel, if justified,will supply
moreprecisionin estimatingteachereffects. It also is moreflexiblethanthe unstructuredcovariancematrixin allowingfor the timingof testingto varyacrossstudents.
Considera simple model for studentgrowthand value added:
Yi
(1)
where Yiis a Tiby 1 vector of outcomes for studenti = , ... , n, 7iiis p + 1 vector
of randomcoefficients,Ai is a known Tiby p + 1 design matrixwith columns containing polynomial coefficients of degree p, and ei a within subject errorvector
assumedfor simplicity here to be distributedas N(0,o2,1T).By design each student
should have T observationsbut in fact only Tioutcomes were observed.Now Zi is
a Ti by J matrix having entries of 0 or 1 indicating whether student i had ever
encounteredteacherj by time t = 1,
Ti, and b is a J by 1 vector of teacher
...., , J and assumedN(0,21j). For simplicity
effects associatedwith teachersj = 1,....
I omit covariatesand assume - iidN(Aiy,t).Note thatI have assumed additive
ti
and cumulativeteachereffects. However, I do so for simplicity of exposition here
and acknowledge McCaffreyet al.'s advice to check and if necessary revise this
assumption.
Then, given knowledge of the variancecomponentsand y, the posteriormean
of the teachereffects is given by
=
E(bIY) [
Z(I -
A/I
x
i=1
Z(Y-
+o2/82-1
ClAT)Zi
A
).
(2)
ai
weresimply
-1
T
ZTz,and would likely be ill-conditioned. The addition of the term
Multiple Cohorts
Raudenbush,Bryk,andPonisciak(2003) analyzeddatacollected on five cohorts
of studentsover five years in Washington,DC. Even with over 50,000 students,
precisionin estimatingteachereffects was modest.Using multiplecohortsappears
essential to obtain adequateprecision. Moreover, school effects were somewhat
unstable,implying a need to averageschool effects over multiplecohortsin order
to obtain a stable average effect. Finally, trends in improvement(gains in value
added)cannotbe estimatedwithout multiplecohorts.
Fixed vs. RandomEffects
Tekwe et al. find that a simpler fixed effect model produces similar "value
added"effects thana more complex randomeffects model. However theirinterest
is confined to estimating school effects with large samples of students and data
with two time points.It is well knownthatthe fixed effects andrandomeffects estimates converge as clustersizes grow large. Largecluster sizes do not apply,however, when teacher effects are of interest. And fixed effects models become
unwieldy when multipletime points and multiplecohorts are available.Give that
fixed effect estimateshave good propertiesonly in special circumstances,I would
recommendrandomeffects as a generalapproach.
127
Summary
In sum, the potentialbenefitsof specifying low-orderpolynomialmodels can be
combinedwith the benefitsof multiplesubject-areatests to yield a model with multiple growth curves per child. CovariatesX included as indicatedby BSW would
add furtherinformation.
Such an approachmay be useful in reducingconfoundingandincreasingrobustness to nonignorablemissingness and is worthy of furtherresearch.Moreover,
multiplecohortscan increaseprecisionandallow studyof changein valuedadded.
However, we must keep in mind thatour estimates are, at best, Type A effects,
of interestto parentsselecting schools, not Type B effects, of interestto officials
holding schools and teachersaccountablefor instructionalpractice.Certainlythe
estimates from VAM, when combined with other information,have potential to
stimulateuseful discussions about how to improve practice.But they should not
be takenas directevidence of the effects of instructionalpractice.
Notes
Goldsteinand Spiegelhalter(1996) discussedthis distinctionandit emergedin
the commentsof severalof theirdiscussantsin an issue of the Journalof the Royal
StatisticalSociety thathighlightedthemes common to those consideredin the current issue of the Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics. Willms and
Raudenbush(1989) considerthe stabilityof these effects over time.
2We must assumethatthe numberof studentsso randomizedper school is comparativelysmall lest the influxof new studentsmodify the context, C, which is part
of the treatment.
3A change in P could lead to a change in C over the long run if, for example,
more advantagedparentssend theirchildrento a school in orderto reapthe benefits of improvedpractice.
4 One might imagine an experimentin which studentsare assigned at randomto
schools thatvaryon P buthave the same C. While such an experimentwould reveal
the impact of P, conducting it would require that C be completely observed.
Assigning schools at randomto P eliminatesthat strongrequirement.
5If we assume strong ignorability(thatX and W adequatelycapturethe selection of schools into values of P), and thatthe regressionmodel assumptionshold,
then the varianceof the estimatesof the effect of Pj based on regressionis a lower
bound on the varianceof the Type B effects. The varianceof the Type A effect is
the upperbound.If these boundsareclose together,one can claim to have "bracketed"the varianceof the Type B effects. This doesn't help with estimatingeffects
for particularschools, however, and such individualestimatesare the object of an
accountabilitysystem.
References
Coleman,J., Campbell,E., Hobson,C., McPartland,
J., Mood,A., Weinfeld,F., et al.
(1966). Equalityof educationalopportunity.WashingtonDC: National Centerfor Edu-
cationalStatistics.
128
Author
STEPHEN W. RAUDENBUSH is Professor, School of education, Professor, Survey
Research Center, and Professor,Departmentof Statistics and Sociology, University of
Michigan, 610 East University,4109 SEB, Ann Arbor,MI 48109. His areas of specialization are analysisof multileveldataand experimentaldesign.
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