Friday, March 11, 2011

Research-Based Reasons Why High-Stakes Tests Should Not Be Used to Evaluate Teachers

"One would think that all of the policy makers, politicians, pundits, superintendents, talk show hosts, documentary movie makers, business leaders, and philanthropic foundations so in love with the idea of using test score data to evaluate teachers would be equally as passionate about accuracy. People’s lives are at stake, and yet the “data” underlying important decisions about teacher performance couldn’t be shakier.

The shakiness of test-based VAM data illustrates that the current fight over teacher “accountability” isn’t really about effectiveness. The more substantial public conversation we should be having about rising poverty, the racial resegregation of our schools, increasing unemployment, lack of health care, and the steady defunding of the public sector—all factors that have an overwhelming impact on students’ educational achievement—has been buried. Instead, teachers and their unions have become convenient scapegoats for our social, educational, and economic woes.

Yes, teachers’ performance needs to be evaluated, but in a manner that is fair and accurate. Using high-stakes standardized tests and VAM to make such evaluations is neither."

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