I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Next Big Fight in Education...

... is using student test scores to evaluate teachers. Large portions of the media and many political factions have already invested themselves in the idea, so expect them to sweep reports like this one, released today from EPI, under the rug:
While there are good reasons for concern about the current system of teacher evaluation, there are also good reasons to be concerned about claims that measuring teachers’ effectiveness largely by student test scores will lead to improved student achievement. If new laws or policies specifically require that teachers be fired if their students’ test scores do not rise by a certain amount, then more teachers might well be terminated than is now the case. But there is not strong evidence to indicate either that the departing teachers would actually be the weakest teachers, or that the departing teachers would be replaced by more effective ones. There is also little or no evidence for the claim that teachers will be more motivated to improve student learning if teachers are evaluated or monetarily rewarded for student test score gains.
A review of the technical evidence leads us to conclude that, although standardized test scores of students are one piece of information for school leaders to use to make judgments about teacher effectiveness, such scores should be only a part of an overall comprehensive evaluation. Some states are now considering plans that would give as much as 50% of the weight in teacher evaluation and compensation decisions to scores on existing tests of basic skills in math and reading. Based on the evidence, we consider this unwise. (emphasis mine)
This has got to be hammered home again and again by the teacher advocates so that these concerns do not get brushed aside; unfortunately, it seems we may already be too late.

For my last project of the summer: a primer for teachers about this issue. Stay tuned.

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