Thursday, March 22, 2012

USA Today Supports Student Performance-Based Teacher Evaluations

An editorial in USA Today (3/22) praises the current teacher evaluation movement, calling the former practice of not using student standardized tests to gauge teacher performance "an absurd omission," and criticizing teacher unions for resisting their use. Despite "rare" cases in which "test critics have been right," USA Today writes, "teachers must be accountable for their performance, just like people in other lines of work, and test scores are essential to that effort." The piece praises the influence of "the Obama administration's Race to the Top competition, which made revamping teacher evaluations a requirement to win millions of federal education dollars," and describes the use of value-added data assessment "the right way" to use test data in evaluating teachers.


Education Expert: Systems Preclude Important Instruction.In accompanying op-ed in USA Today (3/22), Kevin G. Welner, director of the National Education Policy Center, argues that supporters of using student test scores in teacher evaluations are doing more harm than good, adding the media's attention to recent test cheating scandals in such large school districts as Atlanta and Washington, DC, ignores the "real scandals... ingrained in these test-based systems." Welner writes that such programs "sell our children short" because "teachers whose job security suddenly depends on the inappropriate application of a statistical model that almost all assessment experts warn cannot validly measure teachers' performance" prevents teachers from focusing on important concepts that "aren't included on the crucial test."

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