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Evaluating Testing-Based Teacher Evaluation

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This past weekend, Ryan of I Thought a Think decided to take to the numbers and analyze actual testing data to determine the “Most Valuable Teacher” from a group of four 1st grade teachers. He stumbled upon a problem pretty quickly: he ended up finding different points of statistical analysis that qualified all four teachers as the “winner.” Teacher A’s class experienced the highest rise in scores during the year, while Teacher C’s class’ average score trumped the rest, and Teacher B and D earn their keep by raising their students above state-standard lines.

The varying outcomes led Ryan to an insight about valuing teachers based on students’ performance and statistical analysis:

"Value" is a homophone; there's the value signified by the numbers, but there's also the values of the school, the district, and the state which have to be superimposed atop any effort to link the data to the teacher. If the incentive pay/merit pay/whatever pay in this case goes to only one of the four teachers, you're making a statement about the value of the work the other three did, and it's a pretty lousy thing to say to the other three who also made progress that their success didn't matter as much.
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I understand student performance is what people are after. Two teachers can have a different outcome if given the same students and curriculum.
In his article, Becoming Expert Teachers (Part One), Robert J. Garmston reminds us that teaching is not stagnant and there is a learning curve. Berliner shows us there is a continuum of teaching as there is with students; to move from a novice to expert takes time and years. Berliner also states many teachers may never become experts.
This may upset some and fan the flames for others. I have a difficult time understanding how to tie pay to standards. No two states have the same standards, even if there is NCLB. Also, students are not the same.
Perhaps we should look at our children and those of other countries. We believe no child should be left behind. Other countries place their children in programs based upon their abilities as children. I am tired of hearing how far we lag in this area or that. We really must make a choice. Do we want to be competitive and if so, we need to be ready to put our children in factory style learning programs.

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• Michelle W: I understand student performance is what people are after. Two read more

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