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Here's the problem: Holding teachers accountable for the test results does not work unless students are held accountable at the same time. In my state, as in most, the standardized tests do not impact a student's career at all. They do not count for credit, impact the GPA, or determine whether a student will move ahead in schoool or graduate. In other words, there's no reason for students to try their best on the test, and a lot of them don't.
Our state tests include a questionnaire that asks students some general statistical questions, including how much effort they put into the test. As a general rule, my 11th graders say they don't work at it too hard. Then how can my performance be fairly judged by their test results?
This is a terrible idea. We cannot judge teachers by the success or otherwise of their students alone. This would fail to take into account a whole gamut of other factors such as the kind of area that they teach and the realative class and income of their students' parents. This could also be a very damaging thing to teachers themselves.
As most people know standardized tests are not without problems. They are not an accurate reflection on student's abilites and they are not accurate reflections on how good a teacher is as well. For this reason, teacher rating based on this alone would be a horrible idea. With this stated, I would not be opposed to a rating system though. But the hard part is to rate teachers fairly.
I have a problem with gauging a student's success based on standardized testing, so I surely don't agree with teachers' success being based on these tests. I have to say that standardized tests do not accurately test all students: it only tests those students who think in the way the test questions work. There are many students who think and learn outside of the box. Trying to fit them all into the same category is not only ridiculous, but insulting and counter-productive to the confidence of the youngster. Standardized tests in our area do not take into account, for instance, language barriers. If a student has been in the country for three months and is struggling to learn the language, the standardized test is given to that student with extended time. I'm sorry, even with college Spanish, put me in a test situation answering questions in Spanish, 24 hours won't make a different. Some students have test anxiety; others don't care because the testing is long and boring. These students won't perform well on tests; it's bad enough that they have to deal with the knowledge that they don't measure up. How is it possible to infer that teachers are responsible for poor test scores. It is a foolish way to gauge student success. And I can personally vouche that in several situations, while teachers compared questions in English and tried to answer them, that we often were not certain of the answers, even with discussion. Too many times, I believe tests protect the jobs of those writing the tests rather than accurately measuring what our children know. Give the kids more time in instruction, less time learning how to take a standardized test, and provide teachers with the time and materials they need—and alter the intent of standardized testing, with specific allowances for the largest groups of test takers—scores will change. But in no way should teachers be blamed for low scores and should this be made available to the public. Why not work realistically to make kids more successful and then praise teachers for their efforts. Education is struggling, and it's because people are looking for scapegoats, and the tail is wagging the dog. As a parent and teacher, it's infuriating.
I think this just opens yet another avenue for teachers to be misrepresented in the media. There is so much more to our job than a number can indicate. Standardized testing is more complicated than can be relayed by a list of scores. It will be a very sad day when when my success is based on a number without any context. Test scores as a component of professional evaluation is something I can see in the future, and I think that could open a fair conversation about the value of student testing, but posting scores just seems like it would be more bad than good.
There is nothing wrong with making them public in principle, although equal efforts ought to be made to demonstrate to the public that almost all standardized tests have fallen under severe criticism from assessment experts. Additionally, it should be emphasized that they are part of a process, not an end in themselves. But that never seems to happen. So I guess my problem would be with actually rating teachers based solely on standardized test scores in the first place, not making them public.
I like the Op-Ed that Bill Gates wrote on this policy in the NY Times. He said something to the effect that we need to do things that help teachers learn how to be better teachers, not things that shame them without giving them any help on how to improve. To me, publishing these scores is like publishing student grades instead of giving help to the ones who are failing. It just seems like a 100% horrible idea.
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