Test Scores And Teacher Evaluation

A new study shows that when teachers are evaluated based on their student’s test scores, there is a high rate of error. According to the study by Mathematica Policy Research, if three years of data is used there is a 25% chance that a teacher who is rated as “average” would be identified as significantly worse than average, and under some evaluation systems, could be fired for such a rating.

This type of teacher evaluation is known as “value-added” evaluation and has been the topic of controversy in the education world for years. While many sales executives are evaluated based on their numbers, is the same good for teachers? Many people advocate that it is. Good teachers have students with good test scores.

When students come from varying backgrounds, is this a fair assessment of a teacher’s ability? If a child goes to a dentist having never learned to brush his teeth, with four cavities, and a diet consisting mostly of sugar, do we say that the dentist is below average? The dentist can only do so much – he is unable to go home to make sure the child brushes his teeth every day, flosses, and eats healthy. The same is true for our teachers. Students may come to school hungry, tired, unable to read, and the responsibility falls on the teacher to transform the student.

While good teachers positively impact the lives of students on a daily basis, should test scores be the foundation for evaluation?