by Chevy Martin, Executive Editor, RedRock Reports
Test Scores and Teacher Evaluation…The Continuing Emphasis on High Stakes Testing
There is a new nationwide emphasis on tying students’ standardized test scores to teacher evaluations. Recognizing that standardized test scores have their limitations, this is a growing trend, fueled by the Race to the Top funding. But there may be unintended consequences.
Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, reports that in 2009 only 15 states had a teacher evaluation requirement and that currently the number is 24 states and the District of Columbia. Within these states, 23 of them plus DC require the use of student test scores in the evaluation process. Seventeen states and DC require that the proportion of the evaluation using test scores must be significant and 13 of them require it to be the most important criteria. (See the article here.) Here are some examples:
In Arizona, between 33 and 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on student test scores with the exact amount set by the districts.
In Ohio, half of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on student test scores as will salary, promotions and terminations.
In New York Districts can base up to 40 percent of a teacher’s annual evaluation on student performance on state standardized tests.
In Florida, student test score data accounts for 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation with the other half based on observations of the teacher in the classroom.
Tennessee discovered that the 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation based on test scores did not coincide with the grades given through principal observation during their first year of implementation, according to a state report.
“The Tennessee Department of Education found that instructors who got failing grades when measured by their students’ test scores tended to get much higher marks from principals who watched them in classrooms. State officials expected to see similar scores from both methods.”
What does it mean to teachers?
While the Waiver process provides relief to the districts regarding student achievement on standardized tests, these new evaluation programs will move that burden onto the teachers whose evaluations and livelihood are at stake. We saw two types of fallout from No Child Left Behind, increased “teaching to the test” and unfortunate incidents of cheating to raise scores. These unintended consequences may not be a thing of the past Waivers notwithstanding.