This morning, AJC's Get Schooled blog reported on an extensive research study conducted by a group of well-known educational researchers who dismissed the use and over-reliance of students' test scores to measure teacher effectiveness in teacher evaluation. The study made some valid points in discussing the adverse implications these approaches would have on teachers and school progress, which I wholeheartedly agree with. In addition, I also agree with the Get Schooled blogger with her initial assessment; the study called for an additional investment in time, resources, and staffing in utilizing its recommended "comprehensive evaluation model" that most school districts don't have. Nevertheless, something must be done to improve teacher quality and effectively evaluate teachers. A quick fix won't do; our children deserve better.
I understand evidence of student learning is needed to evaluate teacher effectiveness; but referring only on standardized test scores to do so is silly at best. Students learned in various ways; hence, teacher must deliver instruction in a way to addresses those different learning styles. Standardized testing only addressed one or two of these learning styles. In addition, the study alluded to something that I have been saying for years:
Social scientists have long recognized that student test scores are heavily influenced by socioeconomic factors such as parents’ education and home literacy environment, family resources, student health, family mobility, and the influence of neighborhood peers, and of classmates who may be relatively more advantaged or disadvantaged...Because education is both a cumulative and a complex process, it is impossible fully to distinguish the influences of students’ other teachers as well as school conditions on their apparent learning, let alone their out-of-school learning experiences at home, with peers, at museums and libraries, in summer programs, on-line, and in the community...No single teacher accounts for all of a student’s achievement. Prior teachers have lasting effects, for good or ill, on students’ later learning, and several current teachers can also interact to produce students’ knowledge and skills.Also, last year, this is what I stated in my Master's thesis concerning the effects of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on the teaching profession:
Under NCLB, schools are blamed for student failures, while the public judges them harshly and, ultimately, the students pay a heavy price. Ironically, there is no extensive public accountability outcry for parental supervision and care-giving, student responsibility, community support, or government obligations; in addition, poverty, breakdown of the family nucleus, and other societal ills are not factored into the public school accountability equation, although these factors can greatly influence student achievement. Schools should be accountable for what they can control, and that is student learning. Student learning is a life-long and complex journey that involves numerous educators and experiences that should not be confined to mere test scores.
See the connection...from a teacher's perspective? HA!
Apparently, when these educational researchers who conducted this study received their doctoral degrees and other accolades, they didn't forget where they come from. Many of them were former teachers themselves. Plus, it is evident they understand how test-based teacher evaluations will affect teacher performance and teacher morale within the school. It will foster division and competition among teachers. Why do that when the ultimate goal for teacher is the same, i.e., student achievement? One of the effective ways to improve teacher performance is collaborating with other teachers, particularly those teachers who teach the same content. This sounds too much like common sense.
But hey, what do I know?