, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 109–126 | Cite as

Countering Expert Uncertainty: Rhetorical Strategies from the Case of Value-Added Modeling in Teacher Evaluation

  • Glory TobiasonEmail author


This study investigates how uncertainty works in science policy debates by considering an unusual case: one in which uncertainty-based arguments for delay come from the scientific community, rather than industry actors. The case I present is the central use of value-added modeling (VAM) in the evaluation of individual teachers, a controversial trend in education reform. In order to understand how policy actors might counter inconvenient statements of uncertainty from experts, I analyze speeches from Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a committed and influential advocate of VAM. I identify a three-part rhetorical tactic, the “Overcaution Allegation,” and describe its persuasive potential to legitimize policies that elicit caution from the scientific community because they are built on uncertain science.


Uncertainty Expertise Science policy Rhetoric Discourse Teacher evaluation Value-added modeling 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of California Los Angeles, Graduate School of Education and Information StudiesLos AngelesUSA

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