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Opinion: Judging Teachers of ELLs by Test Scores Is a Bad Idea


Schools and the Stimulus

Now that California may put itself in the running for Race to the Top Funds by altering its laws to permit districts to link teacher evaluations to student test scores, some folks are speaking out about what this would mean in that state.

Duane Campbell of Choosing Democracy blog argues that it does not make sense to evaluate the performance of teachers of ELLs based on state standardized tests because those tests are not valid and reliable for that group of students. His comment is posted to a commentary written by education historian Diane Ravitch and published by the Huffington Post.

Here's an excerpt of the comment:

In many classrooms, up to one-third of the students are English-language learners. If you use these test results to measure the teachers or the schools, teachers working with ELL students will always score low. To use these scores to evaluate teachers would be unfair, inaccurate, and poorly informed.

Would anyone like to say an "amen?" Or counter this point?


Evaluation is always part of the lesson plan process. I am not intimidated by testing in general. What I dislike is the overtesting of our students. In terms of my effectiveness as a bilingual teacher, I say ok. Bring on the tests! I say let the testing begin but let us be sure to measure my effectivenes comensurate with my student's grasp of the language that they are being tested in. For exampe, if one student is a strong student in Spanish but not in English, then let us judge my effectiveness of the student's understanding of the student's BICs and CALPs in the language of their strength.

Different school districts offer very different programs for educating ELLs. In my district, we do not offer true bilingual education to our students, and the amount of time ESL teachers can spend in the kind of meaningful ESL instruction students need is minimal. For these reasons, I am not comfortable with my students' test scores being tied to my "effectiveness" and/or pay scale. If I was allowed to teach in the manner in which I was trained to do, and based upon research-proven best practices, I would feel differently.

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