California Educator


Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 11 of 39

Should teacher evaluations be based on test scores? Last summer, President Obama and Educat ion Secretary Arne Duncan announced the criteria for participa- tion in “Race to the Top” — a compet it ive federal grant program for one- time dol l a r s g iven to Ca l i forni a that in a l l likelihood would not ex- ceed $500 mi l l ion. The guidelines for inclusion in the competition stipu- late that California must not have any legal, statu- tory, or regulatory barri- er s to l inking data on student achievement or student growth to teachers and prin- cipals for the purpose of teacher and principal evaluat ion. This situat ion has sparked debate over the issue of linking test scores to teacher evalua- tion and pay. “Test scores are useful for teachers when i t comes to un der s t a n din g which a r e a s s tu- dents may need help in,” says CTA President David A. Sanchez. “But stu- dents are more than one test score and so are educators. There is no re- search or evidence that evaluating or paying teachers based on test scores improves education.” “There is a problem when you start years or that they may have learned from their parents, since teachers on- ly have them a few hours every day.” Though at the local Curtis Washington CTA Board Member level data is avai lable to teachers and school ad- mini s t rators to analyze and evaluate student prog- ress, multiple measures are used to evaluate teacher effectiveness. Newspapers statewide have repor ted that the Long Beach Uni- fied School District evalu- ate s te ache r s bas ed on their test scores. But this is false, says Michael Day, president of the Teachers Association of Long Beach. “It’s been a crazy ride, but there is zero truth to this rumor,” says Day. and their performance in the class- room. It might require more work on the part of administrators to observe what is happening in the classroom, instead of looking at a sheet of paper with numbers on it. The idea of link- ing teacher evaluat ions wi th tes t scores might be an easy concept, but educating a child is a lot more com- plicated than that.” Testing expert Alfie Kohn fears “The idea of linking teacher evaluations with test scores might be an easy concept, but educating a child is a lot more complicated than that.” trying to equate what a student knows to what he has been taught in that year,” says Curtis Washington, a CTA Board member and longt ime math teacher in a high-scoring high school in Millbrae. “There is not always a di- rect cor relat ion. Teachers may get c r edi t for thing s s tudent s hav e learned f rom teachers in previous 12 California Educator | november 2009 “In Long Beach, we use test scores and data to increase student achieve- ment, not to punish teachers. A teach- er could deliver a fantas- tic lesson that hits all the right points and messag- es, and there could st i l l be students who for one reason or another don’t get it. The student could have been absent, not eat- en a good breakfast, or there could be a myriad of other factors beyond a teacher’s control. “Teachers need to be judged on their teaching Michael Day, Teachers Association of Long Beach. that if teachers were evaluated solely on test scores it would foster compe- t i t ion among teacher s that could harm students. “Even if the tests were good and their results meaningful , making children, teachers or schools struggle against one another, so that one can succeed only if others fail, is disastrous to everyone concerned.” “Using test scores as the sole basis to pay or evaluate teachers devalues education and pits ever yone agains t each other,” says Bab e t t e Ja i r e , a special educat ion teacher and presi- Babette Jaire Madera Unified Teachers Association dent of the Madera Unified Teachers Association. “Everyone str iving to get money for their depar tment is not what educ at ion i s supposed to be about. It’s about giving children a chance to explore dif- ferent options and devel- op a passion for some- thing, whether i t’s ar t, music or science. It ’s about de veloping t rue citizens of the world. It’s good to have goals in ed- uc a t io n. B u t g o a l s should not be the only thing that matters.”

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of California Educator - NOVEMBER 09