An Evaluation of Empirical Bayes’ Estimation of Value- Added Teacher Performance Measures

Abstract

Empirical Bayes' (EB) estimation is a widely used procedure to calculate teacher value-added. It is primarily viewed as a way to make imprecise estimates more reliable. In this paper we review the theory of EB estimation and use simulated data to study its ability to properly rank teachers. We compare the performance of EB estimators with that of other widely used value-added estimators under different teacher assignment scenarios. We find that, although EB estimators generally perform well under random assignment of teachers to classrooms, their performance generally suffers under non-random teacher assignment. Under nonrandom assignment, estimators that explicitly (if imperfectly) control for the teacher assignment mechanism perform the best out of all the estimators we examine. We also find that shrinking the estimates, as in EB estimation, does not itself substantially boost performance. An Evaluation of Empirical Bayes’ Estimation of Value-Added Teacher Performance Measures

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