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'One Test on One Day' for Teacher Evaluations

According to colleagues and sources who attended the Education Writers' Association recent conference, National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel took the opportunity during a panel discussion to reiterate that it's "absurd" for districts and states to think that it's possible to use "one test on one day" to evaluate a teacher.

I am genuinely perplexed: I have not heard of a single district that's proposing to use just one test score to evaluate a teacher. The whole point of value-added measures of student growth is that they require at least two scores at different points in time to get a gauge of teacher effectiveness. Some states and districts require at least three or more discrete scores, and a few of the growth models out there, like the one used in Tennessee and elsewhere, take into account every test data point available on a student.

Even then, because these models are imperfect, experts say they must be combined with multiple other measures, such as reviews of practice conducted by administrators or peers.

The big disagreements over teacher-effectiveness legislation have concerned how heavily to weigh the VA-model component with these other measures.

Let me hasten to add that I'm in no way trying to minimize all of the thorny issues associated with incorporating student achievement into reviews of teachers.

But I recall that not all that long ago NEA's single test-score line managed to really tick off House Education and Labor chairman Rep. George Miller. Isn't it a sign that it's time to update a talking point when even lawmakers start to roll their eyes in response?

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