Bush Foundation Teacher Effectiveness Initiative

Bush FoundationOver the next 10 years, at least half of the 50,000 teachers in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota will retire or leave. The Bush Foundation is focusing its resources on producing 25,000 new effective teachers in these three states. The Value-Added Research Center (VARC) at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research has been asked to help reach this goal.

VARC is converting currently available data into information that can be used to develop strong measures of teacher effectiveness. VARC is also providing direct professional development to all participating institutions on the calculation and use of value-added metrics. Our goal is to give every new teacher the tools and information necessary to assess changes in their students' achievement to measure their own teaching effectiveness.

The Bush Foundation has selected proposals from 14 educational institutions in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota to redevelop their admissions, curriculum, and post-graduation tracking of their teacher education students. VARC's work in this large-scale project centers on working with teacher education institutions, school districts, and state agencies to develop measures of teacher effectiveness that are linked to student outcomes.

Professional Development Resources


Value-Added Analogy (Oak Tree) (Adobe Presenter)
Value-Added Analogy (Oak Tree) PPT
The Oak Tree Analogy is designed to explain the concept of value-added analysis.

Value-Added Analogy (Oak Tree) Expansion PPT
This expansion of the original analogy tackles the questions of:

  • What about tall or short trees?
    (high or low achieving students)
  • How does VARC choose what to control for?
    (proxy measurement for causal factors)
  • What if a gardener just gets lucky or unlucky?
    (groups of students and confidence intervals

Presenter note: This Powerpoint involves group discussion topics. A solid understanding of Value-Added Analysis in the education context is recommended when presenting this material in front of others. Seemingly simple "checking for understanding" questions can lead to complex answers relating to econometric modeling.


Value-Added Report Interpretation and Decision Making PPT
This presentation introduces the 1-5 scale of Value-Added and the color coding of estimates. A series of scenarios at the school, district, and Institution of Higher Education (IHE) level are posed to model decisions based on Value-Added data.

Presenter note: Value-added should always be used with multiple measures. Keep in mind that this Powerpoint is presenting scenarios based solely on value-added data. Especially when making higher stakes decisions, value-added should only be a piece of the puzzle when using data to make decisions.

Report Walk-Through - Minnesota Example PPT
This presentation gives and overview of each section of a Value-Added report and addresses frequently asked questions related to report interpretation.

Presenter note: Please first review the "Value-Added Report Interpretation and Decision Making" Powerpoint to familiarize yourself with the color coding of Value-Added reports.

Report Walk-Through Including Student Subgroups PPT

Value-Added Reporting Online Tool
Districts and schools partnering with Institutions of Higher Education in the project will be able to access their data here. Data is available in an interactive format, in static PDFs, and in CSV data files.

Minnesota sample username: MNSampleSchool
Minnesota sample password: sample$

North Dakota sample username: NDSampleSchool
North Dakota sample password: sample$

Minnesota Sample Value-Added Report 1 PDF
Minnesota Sample Value-Added Report 2 PDF

North Dakota Sample Value-Added Report 1 PDF
North Dakota Sample Value-Added Report 2 PDF

Online Course (in development)

VARC Online Course Preview PPT

Example materials
Chapter 1: The Oak Tree Analogy (Adobe Presenter)
Chapter 2: The Power of Two (Adobe Presenter)
Chapter 3: Interpreting Results (Adobe Presenter)
Chapter 4: Factors Influencing Growth (Adobe Presenter)


In the Spring of 2012, value-added reports updated with the most recent year of testing data were delivered to districts partnering with an IHE as part of a site visit between March and early June. Reports included school and grade level results using data obtained from the three state education agencies. In the statewide model, schools and grade level teams are compared to the state average. This provides a policy-relevant and stable reference group for all participating districts, including the smallest districts with only a single school.


Mikhail Pyatigorsky
Phone: (608) 263-3415
Office: 1186C Ed Sciences