Center for Greater Philadelphia
Operation Public Education
Theodore Hershberg

Value-Added Assessment in Tennessee

Tennessee is the state most strongly identified with value-added assessment. Its system dates back to 1992, when value-added was implemented as an integral part of a comprehensive education reform measure. Using a complex statistical method developed by Dr. William Sanders, then a statistician at the University of Tennessee , the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) provides:

  • Data to the public on the performance of districts and schools, and data for appropriate administrators on the performance of teachers;
  • Information to teachers, parents and the public on how schools are doing in helping each child make academic gains each year;
  • Information to school administrators to help identify weaknesses in even the strongest schools.
TVAAS is a statistical methodology that begins with testing each student in each grade in a number of subjects. Through 1997, Tennessee tested second through eighth grades in Reading , Math, Language, Science, and Social Studies. Tennessee began testing grades three through eight in 1998.i

The TVAAS statistical model aggregates student growth increases using a design that accommodates missing data. Because of a philosophical belief that schools should insure that all students progress at equivalent rates, no matter their disadvantages, the model does not include other data on students.ii

In a report by the Council of Chief State School Officers, Tennessee's 8% increase in math and science scores was linked to TVAAS. In addition, Tennessee is one of the few states that have shown improvement on the National Assessment of Education Progress since TVAAS was implemented in 1992.iii

The state has both rewards, aid, and sanctions linked to its school rating system.There is no specific value-added teacher evaluation as part of Tennessee 's accountability system, but school administrators have access to teacher level data that can be used to improve instruction. Value-added scores can be used for up to 8 percent of a teacher's evaluation.

The incentive funds are only available to schools, not to teachers.

Although teachers and administrators were suspicious at first, they are now finding they can actually use TVAAS to improve teaching, something that no other accountability system has afforded.iv

Complying with No Child Left Behind

The NCLB Act requires existing teachers to demonstrate competency in all core academic subject areas via a highly objective uniform state standard of evaluation (HOUSSE). One option for complying with this requirement is through the use of Teacher Effect Data , a statistical means of estimating the teacher's impact (effect), or lack of impact on student achievement or learning, which is produced as a component of TVAAS. The analysis of teacher effect data uses three-year average gain comparisons: teacher vs. norm, teacher vs. state, and teacher vs. system as an estimated measure of the teacher's effect on student learning.v

In November of 2005, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced a new pilot program that will allow selected states to use growth models to determine if their schools and districts are meeting No Child Left Behind performance targets. Tennessee is one of two states whose proposed growth model was accepted by the U.S. Department of Education.

For more information on the use of growth models under No Child Left Behind and on Tennessee’s  NCLB growth model click here.

Links to important websites


Shearon for School, “The Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System,”

Tennessee Department of Education,

Tennessee Education Association,

Tennessee 's growth model proposal,

“Tennessee Plan for Implementing the Teacher and Paraprofessional Quality Provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,” Tennessee State Department of Education, January 14, 2004,

i Tennessee Department of Education, "Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System,"
ii Karen Helland, "Value-Added Assessment," School Directors' Handbook, Evergreen Freedom Foundation, 2001, p.4
v "Tennessee Plan for Implementing the Teacher and Paraprofessional Quality Provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001," Tennessee State Department of Education, January 14, 2004, p.5,

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© 2004 Center for Greater Philadelphia