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Friday, July 31, 2009

Judging Teachers By Test Scores

The Public Agenda web site has some interesting information on evaluating teachers by test scores. Read the summary and click on the links below for more information:

Judging Teachers By Test Scores

The Obama administration's "Race to the Top" on education has a lot of hurdles ahead of it, and one may be the fact that the administration is embracing one of the ideas that teachers have seemed most skeptical about: judging teachers by test scores.

To be precise, states can't get funding under the $4.3 billion initiative if they have laws that bar the use of test scores to evaluate teacher performance. That includes some big states like New York and California. The administration argues that using test data to evaluate schools is essential for reform. "You cannot ignore facts," President Obama said. "That is why any state that makes it unlawful to link student progress to teacher evaluations will have to change its ways."

Perhaps so. But it's worth noting that Public Agenda research has consistently found that out of all the players in education, teachers are the most doubtful about the value of testing. In 2006, we found 71 percent of teachers said students were required to take "too many" standardized tests, compared to 59 percent of superintendents. Teachers are also less likely than other groups to see standardized testing as valuable, with 62 percent of teachers calling them a "necessary evil," compared to 37 percent of parents.

But these are also the very same people whose support must be enlisted if education reform is to have an impact: nothing happens in a classroom unless the teacher makes it happen. Our great challenge is holding teachers accountable while keeping them enthusiastic - - at the same time. To learn more about this critical issue, including details from our research on this subject, see the full story, "Room At The Top For Test Scores?" on our blog. And for more on education reform, check out Education Insights at

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