I've not seen as much comment about the second article in the LA Post's series on value-added analysis as we did for the first. This one, LA's Leaders in Learning, focuses on school-level analysis, and with a change in framing would serve as a blistering critique of No Child Left Behind's accountability regime. It turns out that using value-added analysis, one finds that many low poverty schools with low absolute scores identified as failing under NCLB are actually achieving greater growth, more learning, than many other schools with more affluent student bodies and higher scores.
It is, of course, not particularly surprising. This is presented in a rather muddy fashion. On one hand, there's too much casting about for blame, when the fact of the matter is districts have had to focus on NCLB style accountability because that's the federal law, and while the Obama administration professes to want to change, their actions up through the latest round of mandated school restructurings, have maintained the same system. Also, getting too wound up about the availability of school-level growth data in elementary school is a bit of a show. The kids are tested every year, so one can pretty clearly see even by looking at one year where the kids are starting and finishing in a given school, and to be honest, it isn't clear to me that it is a more accurate evaluation of a school to look at, say, where this year's fifth graders started six years ago, since it is fairly likely the school has been extensively reorganized at least once in that span of time.