WE DO NOT NEED RACE TO THE TOP AND PRIVATE GLOBAL TESTING AND EVALUATION CORPORATIONS TO REACH THE GOAL OF STUDENT AND TEACHER ACCOUNTABILITY.
Global pols are simply building a product network---they could care less about children, quality education, and achievement--- below you see a good assessment of education accountability through modern history and it too sees the dynamics between what is being pushed by Wall Street and what citizens in communities want. Remember, the US classroom had rigor and accountability BEFORE Reagan/Clinton defunded and dismantled all these structures to allow for movement of students through a system without demanding excellence. They did this with the goal of installing these neo-liberal corporate education policies.
Accountability, Yes. Teaching to the Test, No.
- By Patricia Deubel
The public wants an accountability system that works the way it should so that key stakeholders will know whether state academic content standards have been met. When assessments are properly designed, how can we not defend the things we identify that are important for students to know and be able to do? But, which assessments are we referring to? The single once-per-year standardized test? I cringe when I hear teachers say they find themselves teaching to their state test, when instruction should to be focused on the standards.
The controversy surrounds what critics say is a system that is not working the way it should. In answering the above question, there is little doubt in educators' minds that the current system mandated by No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has contributed to problems. Students are caught in the middle. In some cases, teachers voice fears about losing their jobs, if their students don't perform well on those standardized tests. Unfortunately, such testing has become synonymous with NCLB. The consequence: What gets left behind in key decision making are the "day-to-day classroom assessments, which represent 99.9 percent of the assessments in a student's school life" (Stiggins, 2007, p. 28).
Old System Flawed
I can understand the granular focus on standards in the current movement. One might say that school districts themselves have historically contributed to problems encountered with learning, although it is shocking to even say that. This certainly has not been their intent. It came as no surprise when Stiggins (2007) noted that for decades teachers typically have not been thoroughly trained during their pre-service preparation or while teaching to assess accurately and use assessment productively. Having taught for over 30 years in more than one state and in several school districts, I've seen many instances of poor teaching practices, inconsistencies in what is taught, and great differences in classroom grading procedures. I have heard teachers say, "Just let me alone in my classroom to do my own thing. I know what is important for these kids to learn." Collaboration among teachers was minimal, and even if they wanted to, the teaching day was scheduled in such a way as to make this nearly impossible to do. Thus, two teachers of the same subject might differ considerably on what they deemed important, resulting in assessments that also varied in content and difficulty.
The end result: Administrators and parents would not have clear indicators of what students knew, as letter grades dominated discussions. We all know that letter grades don't tell all.
In spite of school systems developing scope and sequence guides for what should be taught and when, teachers were pretty much left on their own to use those guides or not. Sometimes those guides were put in the filing cabinet, or only reappeared if some administrator asked to see your copy. If a teacher's own conceptual understanding of a particular topic was weak, they'd skip it or minimally address it. Who would know? Typically, I'd see teachers skip probability and statistics chapters in a math text. They'd rationalize that those were not needed for courses in the next year. If they didn't like teaching word problems, many of those were skipped too. In other words, free reign up to a point was often the case, with the textbook serving as the curriculum.
Before the NCLB accountability movement, I saw a different attitude toward standardized testing. I recall several years in spring when students in one grade took a well known standardized test of basic skills. Teachers would say, "Just do your best and keep in mind that the test does not count for anything." And, it didn't. Consequently, some students just filled in bubbles on the answer sheets without even reading the test questions. There was no reliable link from test results to student knowledge; nor were there focused efforts within the classroom to do anything with results. At best students got a printout of their results, if it arrived by the end of the school year. Data were collected, and echoing Stiggins (2007) words, the assessment results informed the grownups who ran the system (p. 29). The district's nuts and bolts were not necessarily in place to ensure that tests measured what had been taught anyway.
The above scenario illustrates a system that was not working the way it should. It was more teacher-centered than learner-centered. Introducing a different slant on accountability was an idea whose time had come. So, what commonality could we come up with to measure what students know? The state mandated standardized test linked to academic content standards, of course. But this time, raise the stakes--link passage to graduation requirements or retaining students in a grade. Again, borrowing from Stiggins (2007), this would change "our 60-year assessment legacy" in which nowhere "do we find reference to students as assessment users and instructional decision makers" (p. 29). They and their teachers surely would be assessment users now.
Whether or not you agree with standardized testing, there are positive outcomes from the current accountability movement. School districts and teachers are taking a closer look at curriculum and are developing vertical and horizontal curriculum maps. When properly done, these ensure that what is taught aligns to state standards. This is a good thing to not just cover topics, but to see how well and to what degree those deemed important appear appropriately in each grade level or subject strand. You can't teach all of the standards; I agree there are too many. A good curriculum committee will know which standards have been tested at each grade level. They will incorporate those among others of highest priority within essential questions for their mapping efforts. This is putting the nuts and bolts in place. It's not setting up the idea of teaching to the test, rather identifying standards that are achievable within a reasonable time period. Plus, it is not limiting what is taught to what is tested, which is an unethical practice anyway. With this comes greater emphasis on principles of universal design for learning and using a variety of curricular materials beyond the textbook, so that students don't become confused when they see problems on standardized tests not expressed exactly as they've seen them in their textbook. Overcoming that confusion is one of the teacher concerns for teaching to the test.
Unfortunately, some of the curriculum maps I've seen are still works in progress, as are their implementations. Short-term maps might lack performance tasks among assessments, for example, which link content to real-world activities and provide the contextual and investigative aspects important for learning. This then affects how a subject is taught and learned.
The accountability movement has led teachers to rethink their methodologies for teaching, pulling some out of their comfort zone. For example, NCTM standards include processes such as reasoning, problem solving, using multiple representations, communication, and making connections, which are embedded in math questions on standardized tests. A teacher-centered behaviorist approach to instruction with its popular lecture method limits development of those skills. Those who use differentiated instructional practices, now at the forefront of education, are more learner-centered, and have philosophical perspectives leaning toward constructivism and perhaps connectivism. There's more obvious attention to responsiveness to intervention and progress monitoring strategies, such as interim diagnostic testing and formative assessments. The accountability movement, in turn, has forced students to take greater responsibility for their learning--they are assessment-users. Some parents have become more involved with helping their children to learn.
Current System Flawed
All is not rosy with the current system either, as critics point out. We hear that by focusing on THE TEST, we are denying our young people valuable experiences they need in the 21st century. The NCLB standardized test frenzy should not limit our ability to provide those, but apparently it has. We hear of districts narrowing the curriculum to better focus on subjects tested. After all, repercussions involving funding are involved. This is unfortunate, as the narrowing affects our ability to teach the whole child, which should be the mission of our public schools. We hear of increased teacher stress as they work with students to prepare them for those tests and their frustrations when students fail again. Yet, those same students might have made great strides with their teacher when you make the comparison to what students knew at the beginning of their courses. There are statements on other ways for students to demonstrate what they have learned, such as project-based learning and using portfolios. I agree that both are valuable and might be considerations, but at present the process for evaluating those alternatives, the man-power to do so with rubrics applied fairly, and the additional cost to do so are not in place.
So, we are left with an imperfect system for measuring outcomes of learning for public accountability. We use the most efficient, cost-effective form with the multiple choice format, free response, and essays in writing. Questions are field tested so that the final test is valid and reliable. Some of those tests might not yet be good, and it is probably true that when too many students start to get a particular question right, the question is replaced. We have misused and abused standardized tests to a point where we've lost site of the purpose of testing. Standardized tests can't possibly measure all that we value for students to know and be able to do. But, if you can set aside NCLB for a moment, there is a valuable place for them. If results inform instruction and tell the teacher that a student does not have basic skills in some area deemed essential, isn't that important to know for intervention to be provided? The era of "passing the buck" is gone.
Douglas Reeves (2004, cited in Deubel, 2007) provided good advice: "Even if the state test is dominated by lower-level thinking skills and questions are posed in a multiple-choice format, the best preparation for such tests is not mindless testing drills, but extensive student writing, accompanied by thinking, analysis, and reasoning." My guess is that test prep strategies used by many run contrary to his statement. This is not to say we should omit teaching test taking strategies, and taking practice tests. Students should know what to expect. The key is proper balance and remaining ethical in our test prep strategies (e.g., see Mehrens, 1989; Washington Educational Research Association, 2001).
I doubt readers oppose accountability--proof that students have met standards. Objections lie in how we are going about gathering the proof and the current emphasis on outcomes from single tests, rather than using a spectrum of possibilities. The problem is not standardized tests per se, but the inappropriate uses we've made of results. There is some good news on the horizon, however. To fix the current problem, Reeves (2008) notes that growth models are being piloted in states to add flexibility in determining school success. The combination of growth and achievement might lead to a more complete accountability system. I still want to know if the student learned this, that, and the other. But I also want to know that students are developing other skills and exercising creativity valued for 21st century literacy. I want a system that works the way it should, one that does not ever cause students to lose faith in their ability to succeed.
Let's look first at testing and evaluation from a teacher's viewpoint. Remember, teachers do look out for their own professional careers but they overwhelmingly look out for their students so these opinions reflect two concerns.
The key word is arbitrary. There is little chance of creating an evaluation and testing tool that will be effective for all US students and teachers in all situations---IT IS IMPOSSIBLE. That is what makes American public education work---it is dynamic and seeks a format that meets the needs of students no matter from where they come. Wall Street wants standards that set a goal for all students and expect all students to rise to the challenge. Well, not really. Wall Street is building a tiered system of education that uses these tests and evaluations to select the students that can meet these standardized goals while building another system for those not able to ----you know, a majority of American students. It is not that most American students cannot achieve----they simply come to school lacking the learning skills and structure of family to do so. Education in the 1960s with War on Poverty and progressive social democrats in control sought to deal with all these factors and garnered successes in schools-----Reagan/Clinton defunded and dismantled these structures not wanting the majority of Americans with the ability to achieve. Remember, Wall Street maximizes profit when all citizens are at poverty---not achieving and climbing economic ladders.
We already know in cities like Baltimore that teachers in underserved communities will not be able to meet evaluation and testing challenges as well as those in middle-class schools. Even middle-class schools are not meeting the challenge yet. So, any staff choosing to teach at an underserved school will feel unable to meet goals. That's no problem says Wall Street, we will send in temporary teachers made to volunteer time in underserved classrooms that will move on if evaluated poorly----they won't care if they cannot receive higher pay and tenure. This ends the US Constitutional rights of Equal Protection education in opportunity and access. It is not a legal stance to take and yet, Clinton and Obama neo-liberals are pushing it as hard as they can.
ALL OF THIS IS A REPUBLICAN EDUCATION POLICY----FROM CHARTERS TO SCHOOL CHOICE TO ACCOUNTABILITY AND COMMON CORE AS IT IS BREAKING DOWN OUR PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM TO PRIVATIZE IT.
The Arbitrary Albatross: Standardized Testing and Teacher Evaluation
May 15, 2013 Aaron Pribble Edutopia
On Chicago's streets and Hollywood's silver screens, education reform has been cast as a false dilemma between students and teachers. Reputable actresses and liberal mayors have both fallen prey. At the center of this drama lie teacher evaluations. A linchpin of the debate, they weigh especially heavily around the necks of educators like me.
Think: Shaky Foundation
With the arrival of spring, testing season is now upon us: America's new national pastime. I believe student results from standardized tests should not be used to evaluate teachers because the data are imprecise and the effects are pernicious. Including such inaccurate measures is both unfair to teachers and detrimental to student learning.
As a large body of research suggests, standardized test data are imprecise for two main reasons. First, they do not account for individual and environmental factors affecting student performance, factors over which teachers have no control. (Think: commitment, social class, family.) Second, high-stakes, one-time tests increase the likelihood of random variation so that scores fluctuate in arbitrary ways not linked to teacher efficacy. (Think: sleep, allergies, the heartache of a recent breakup.)
High-stakes assessments are also ruinous to student learning. They encourage, at least, teaching to the test and, at most, outright cheating. This phenomenon is supported by Campbell's law, which states statistics are more likely to be corrupted when used in making decisions, which in turn corrupts the decision making process itself. (Think: presidential campaigns.)
As a teacher, if my livelihood is based on test results, then I will do everything possible to ensure high marks, including narrowing the curriculum and prepping fiercely for the test. The choice between an interesting project and a paycheck is no choice at all. These are amazing disincentives to student learning. Tying teachers' careers to standardized tests does not foster creative, passionate, skillful young adults. It does exactly the opposite.
Evaluation and Accountability
The Atlanta cheating scandal is a stark illustration. A dispositive result of the testing obsession, it's an outcome as predictable as it is tragic. When bonuses and continued employment are largely determined by a single test, there is a perverse incentive to manipulate the system. Teachers and administrators are charged as felons for doctoring answer booklets; educators face jail time. We don't just think high-stakes testing leads to cheating. We know it does.
Fortunately, this is not an issue in my district. It remains a wonderful place to teach. But over half the states and the District of Columbia now use high-stakes tests to evaluate teachers, and this national trend must be reversed.
Because standardized tests are an inexact estimate of a teacher's ability, they are also unfair. By focusing on a sliver of the curriculum -- often rote facts --standardized tests do not measure meaningful understanding. (Think: Who was the last French monarch? versus How much violence is justified in revolution?) And unless you believe bubbling the letter of the best answer is crucial in the 21st century, standardized tests exclude evidence of important skill development. Indeed, my students learn much more than can be measured on a Scantron, and I want to be held accountable for it all.
Instead, we should consider reforming the observation method of evaluation, preserving student input, and incorporating a range of student work. Ironically, a focus on observation in performance review aligns with many other professions. Nurses, lawyers, even investment bankers are judged in large part by what their peers and supervisors see them doing. Plus when results are used, they are the results themselves -- not contorted approximations. Consider how you yourself are evaluated at work. I bet it's most likely through feedback and observation.
So, occasionally videotape a lesson, observe my classes, evaluate my students' work. If peers and administrators find my performance less than effective, prescribe some additional training. But please don't judge me based on student scores on standardized tests. I'll suffer, and so will the students.
Beginning the Conversation
Rather than focusing on evaluations altogether, let's professionalize the profession. We should create a rigorous entrance exam, an educational bar, as a gateway to licensing. Once teachers demonstrate mastery, they should be allowed to instruct according to expert standards -- just like in medicine, law and finance. If teaching is seen as exclusive, with formidable barriers to entry, it will become a more respected career, and teachers will earn the right and the latitude to practice.
If this makes sense, or if you're slightly curious, there are a number of steps you can take. Check out Learning is More Than a Test Score, Opt Out National and FairTest: The National Center for Fair and Open Testing.
Best of all, begin a conversation. Talk with friends and neighbors about this important issue affecting our communities and our country. Education is a lifelong pursuit, and teaching is a beautiful career. Let's decouple high-stakes testing from teacher evaluations for the sake of students and teachers alike.
Students are joining the fight against testing and evaluation not only in underserved communities where teachers are hit hardest by it-----middle-class and affluent schools are more vocal because they have power behind their voices.
Parents and students join this fight because they see where these policies force teachers to go and they know teachers having real passion for education will be forced to leave the profession. This is an attack on the quality of staff we have in the classroom as Wall Street pretends it is to hold teachers accountable. First, get rid of teacher's unions---then break down the teaching profession to classroom adjunct education aids that simply turn on online lessons.
The thing not mentioned enough because of sensitivity is the fact that students do use performance to pressure teachers into being lenient on grading and testing. It happens throughout Maryland and especially Baltimore. If your administrator has pressure from corporate pols to get Maryland grades up so they look like a successful leader in education (THINK O'MALLEY) then students know they can slack off and still get good grades. Teachers are held hostage to these kinds of goals. Same will happen with these tests as a student below points out----
“I feel like it’s an unfair way to measure teachers because students know they aren’t going to be graded, so they’re not going to try their hardest,” said freshman Ahmad Alnasser.
The last thing you want are teachers threatened by student performance if you want real accountability. This is why all of these testing and evaluation models make conditions worse in attaining these student achievement goals.
Students at Elite High School Boycott Teacher Evaluation Tests Students at NYC's Stuyvesant High are opting out of standardized tests to oppose what they see as an unfair system of teacher evaluation.
By Geoff Decker / Gotham Schools November 1, 2013
For some high-achievers at Stuyvesant High School, flunking their latest test is no big deal.
A group of students at the elite high school in lower Manhattan pledged to opt out of the English tests that were administered today, saying they’re opposed to the exam’s purpose. The tests are low-stakes for students, but they’ll be used to grade teachers on new evaluations being rolled out this year.
“This movement is meant to support Stuyvesant teachers in opposing an unfair teacher evaluation system,” Senior David Cahn wrote on the Facebook page he created to encourage other students to join in.
Students across the city are taking formal baseline tests this year in many subjects because of new teacher evaluation rules. The rules require teachers to be rated in part by how much their students improve over the course of the year, and schools are using tests this fall as the baseline for determining student proficiency at the beginning of the year.
The extra testing has eaten into class time and taken teachers out of classroom for grading. Earlier this month, parents at an Upper Manhattan school grew so fed up that they boycotted pre-tests at their “early education” school, prompting the principals to scrap the exams altogether. The city announced this week that it’s looking for alternatives to the schools, which exclusively serve students in kindergarten through second.
The efforts at Stuyvesant, an ultra-competitive school where whose students must ace a citywide admissions exam to gain entry, appear to be the first student-driven protest since the new evaluations have been implemented in New York City. The school also has a history of student activism, including last year when Cahn and his twin brother, Jack, challenged the school’s handling of student elections.
On Facebook, students discussed a variety of ways to abstain from the tests, which were administered this morning. Some said they’d rather be working on their college applications; others suggested they’d take the test, but bomb it on purpose.
“I will be writing one of the best joke essays I have ever written,” one student quipped.
Senior Sweyn Venderbush posted a generic letter that he had written based on language used on a national anti-testing web site. He suggested that students bring it to the school’s administration to inform them of their opt out plans.
He offered another option to students that didn’t bring in an opt-out letter: “Push the test away and don’t write anything on it,” Venderbush wrote. ”If you do, it may be marked as a zero so refuse to write on the test.”
Not all students agreed with the protest.
“Don’t mess around with your teacher’s evaluations,” one student posted.
Students who refuse to take the tests can’t negatively hurt their teacher’s rating, a Department of Educations spokesman said. They simply won’t count toward the rating at all.
The tests weren’t required. A committee of teachers at Stuyvesant voted to administer the tests to get a baseline over using a combination of historical student data, including previous state test scores and report card grades.
Dennis Tompkins, a spokesman for the State Education Department stressed this fact in a statement. He said that the opted-out students could still be counted toward a teacher’s rating using the historical data.
“This is very straightforward – we don’t require pre-tests for anyone,” Tompkins said in a statement. “If they opt out … historical data would be used instead.”
It’s unclear how many students from the 3,300-student school planned to follow through with the plan. Principal Jie Zhang did not respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment.
Outside the school last week, students said they weren’t looking forward to taking the tests. But most said they still planned to take the test.
“I feel like it’s an unfair way to measure teachers because students know they aren’t going to be graded, so they’re not going to try their hardest,” said freshman Ahmad Alnasser.
Caspar Lant, a senior, was the rare student to welcome the benchmark test. He said that Stuyvesant’s teachers could use more scrutiny, since in his view some teachers coast by on the assumption that their high-performing students require little guidance.
“I’m the kind of student that loses all motivation when my teachers aren’t invested,” he said.Patrick Wall contributed reporting
Readiness testing of pre-K students are different than high-stakes testing that will be used to track children at these early ages into a vocational track as happens in Asian neo-liberal education. Obama followed a hundreds of billions of dollars funding of public school testing and evaluation corporations with this pre-school funding all dressed as progressive help to get early achievement for all. What it really has as a goal is to create the baseline testing scores that will determine how an institution like Johns Hopkins will track those school children.
That is high-stakes to me. Baltimore is already doing this as is Philadelphia for city students and it will spread to all public schools. These policies take the choice away from parents and students and place all decisions of where children will attend school and what vocational track they will take with no input from parents or students.
IF YOU STATE THE GOAL OF THESE POLICIES CITIZENS WILL BECOME ENGAGED----IF YOU POSE PROGRESSIVE AND MAKE IT SOUND LIKE ALL THIS IS TO HELP QUALITY AND LIFT ACHIEVEMENT IN UNDERSERVED SCHOOLS---THAT IS PROPAGANDA.
If we look at the goal of Wall Street education policy----to attach K-career college schools to corporate campuses where students will work as apprentices to whatever vocation leads to employment with that corporation----then you see where these testing and evaluation policies lead.
As this article suggests---all of this is leading to pass and fail evaluations for schools, teachers, and students and when most research shows these models unable to gauge accurately----THIS MEANS PASSING AND FAILING FOR EACH OF THESE GROUPS BECOMES ARBITRARY.
Is Standardized Testing for Preschoolers a Good Idea? Preschoolers are put to the test.This is what kindergarten readiness looks like.
Jul 27, 2011announced its $500 million Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) initiative, early childhood education advocates rejoiced.
But when the competition guidelines were rolled out on July 1, critics attacked one of the program’s key components: standardized testing for 4-year-olds.
RTT-ELC guidelines specified that in order to be eligible for funding, states must develop kindergarten readiness assessments to be given to all children entering public school. Tests must be aligned with early learning standards, and implemented statewide by the start of the 2014-15 academic year.
According to journalist, radio host, and author David Sirota, administering standardized tests to 4-year-olds is “madness.”
The U.S. already tests kids more than other industrialized nations, he observed, and our students still score lower on international assessments. Sirota wondered why “the Obama administration, backed by corporate foundations, is intensifying testing at all levels, as if doing the same thing and expecting different results is innovative ‘reform’ rather than what it's always been: insanity.”
RTT-ELC’s testing requirement also worried Washington Post columnist Valerie Strauss, who feared that preschool would become “an academic environment that is too regimented for youngsters.”
Creating developmentally appropriate assessments for young children is extremely difficult, she explained, citing the example of a 4-year-old girl who scored abysmally low on a test because she wasn’t in the mood to answer questions.
“[The girl] was scored as essentially having the aptitude of a monkey,” Strauss commented. “That’s the way standardized assessments are, and that’s no way to judge a 4-year-old.”
But while pre-k testing has its share of skeptics, some early childhood experts defend readiness assessments, claiming that they’re widely misunderstood.
“There are some misconceptions about assessments of young children,” Bornfreund clarified in a recent interview. “These aren’t paper and pencil tests. Students aren’t expected to bubble in their answers.”
Bornfreund described early childhood literacy assessments where teachers sit down with students one on one, and ask them questions about letters, sounds, and pictures. In others assessments, teachers watch children at play and record their observations. “This is supposed to create a low-pressure environment,” she explained.
Readiness assessments also differ from typical standardized tests by covering more than just math and literacy. Some, like the Maryland School Readiness Report, target up to seven domains of learning: language and literacy, mathematical thinking, scientific thinking, social studies, the arts, physical development, and social and personal development.
Testing children before they enter kindergarten is not a new or unusual phenomenon, Bornfreund added. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 22 states already require the assessment of all students, and 25 states specify which pre-approved assessments districts may use.
LOWERING THE STAKES
There are two types of standardized tests: high-stakes and low-stakes. High-stakes test scores are increasingly used by elementary, middle, and high schools to hold back or promote students, grant or deny teacher tenure, calculate teacher pay, and make layoff decisions.
But kindergarten readiness assessments usually fall into the low-stakes category. Their purpose is to improve instruction, not to reward or punish individual educators and children.
For example, Maryland teachers use readiness test scores to make curricular decisions, tailor support to individual student needs, and communicate with parents about their child’s development. Districts use the results to guide teachers’ professional development and target resources.
According to Bornfreund, researchers counsel against using readiness assessments to delay a child’s entry into kindergarten. “Readiness instruments do not always provide an accurate picture of children’s abilities, and often the children recommended for delay are the ones who would benefit most from being in a kindergarten program.”
She added that the initial guidelines of the federal RTT-ELC initiative don’t recommend attaching readiness test scores to high-stakes punishments or rewards. In fact, test scores won’t even be factored into the evaluation or ranking of different early learning programs.
Bornfreund pointed out that there's another type of readiness states should consider: the readiness of schools to accept new students.
“Readiness is about more than children being ready to learn,” she explained. “It's about ensuring a smooth transition from the child’s pre-school environment—whether it be a pre-k program, childcare center, or home—to the kindergarten classroom and early grades of elementary school.”
Applications for RTT-ELC grants will be available in late summer, and awards will be made by the end of the year. RTT-ELC’s goal is to dramatically improve the quality of early learning and development programs serving high-need children. Will statewide testing of 4-year-olds further that goal, or hinder it? What do you think?
For those listening to what pols today say-----this word---'added value' is tied to everything from health care reform to this education reform and it is all creating the guise of needing all this information/data collected on the American people. The goal is simply to build a very repressive surveillance network and the analysis platform for a very autocratic global corporate tribunal rule. It has nothing to do with creating quality. Sending Federal money to do that would not be popular so they use these terms 'value-added' and 'data-driven'.
When Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT made public this move to global online education platforms OPEN TO THE WORLD FOR FREE----it was touted as being a platform that parents, teachers, and students could use to augment existing education structures. No doubt, being able to go online for a lesson explanation is great for a parent helping their children with homework or a teacher needing a quick lesson plan on rare occasions. No one feels these online policies or technology in the classroom is bad. The problem for academic researchers like me is we knew that was not the goal of MIT global online education---it was to build global education corporations with a few US Ivy League universities creating and controlling all information and education around the world. It is promoted as democratizing education by having people as STARTUPS playing with these policies---but we all know the intent is to have a few global education corporations controlling these global MOOCs/online universities.
The same problems come from using the term 'value-added' to evaluations of students and teachers. WHOSE VALUES ARE WE ADDING? THIS IS THE KEY. Wall Street sees value added in selling product and using human capital to maximize profit----PERIOD. So, value-added to Wall Street has nothing to do with value-added to main street. The goals of Wall Street is to create an education structure so streamlined as to exist at the least cost but functioning well enough to educate the American people enough to do a job. Using people in schools to maximize global corporate profits is just icing on the cake.
Value-added to main street would be teachers having enough time and resources to spend with each student having the ability to education in a style that stimulates a students love of education and develops skills for learning that will be used throughout life. Exposing a student to a broad field of knowledge that allows just enough for that student to decide upon what career path he/she wants to pursue---------------------------------------------------------
THAT IS WHAT DEMOCRATIC EQUAL OPPORTUNITY PUBLIC EDUCATION DOES.
So, value-added for main street means well-equipped schools in buildings that allow for all kinds of educational experiences. It means having staff in a school prepared to provide assistance in all kinds of ways---from nursing to social services----from classroom aids to special needs-----from recreation to grounds maintenance.
THIS WAS THE STRUCTURE OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS BEFORE REAGAN/CLINTON DEFUNDED THEM. WHAT THESE GLOBAL POLS ARE REPLACING THIS STRUCTURE WITH--A SYSTEM OF CORPORATE N0N-PROFITS ARE SIMPLY POSING FOR WHAT WILL DISAPPEAR AND BECOME A PREDATORY SYSTEM.
Below you see what will be boring education policy talk geared at colleges but it is relevant to K-12----- that occurred before this neo-liberal control had been established----and it makes clear--value-added is impossible to assess with any equity and value-added is DETERMINED BY THE STUDENTS. This was the progressive social democratic stance. Today, we have the Wall Street stance that says--value-added means what is cheap and adds to profit. Please glance through this article.
Value added is the enhancement that students achieve (to knowledge, skills abilities and other attributes) as a result of their higher education experience.
Value added is about what value, to the student, has been accumulated as a result of a period of time in higher education. Institutions may be evaluated or assessed on the basis of the cumulative value that they add to their students. Some proponents argue that the status of an institution should be judged by their value added contribution. However, most league tables or rankings do not do this as it difficult to calculate value added.
Bennett (2001) defined value added as follows:
By value added we mean what is improved about students’ capabilities or knowledge as a consequence of their education at a particular college or university. Measuring value requires having assessments of students’ development or attainments as they begin college, and assessments of those same students after they have had the full benefit of their education at the college. Value added is the difference between their attainments when they have completed their education and what they had already attained by the time they began. Value added is the difference a college makes in their education.
Cunha and Miller (2009) wrote:
We define value-added as the increase in students’ skills and knowledge over their tenure in school. As such, it is student-specific and inherently difficult to measure. For nursing students, the value-added by a college encompasses what is learned in the core liberal arts curriculum as well as practical knowledge, like how to inject a vaccine and accurately measure a patient’s blood pressure, about the nursing profession. For a math major, value-added is quite different; while it still encompasses the same core liberal arts curriculum, we do not care if a math major knows how to clean a bedpan. However, we do hope that he completes college with a thorough understanding of proofbased logic and has a grasp of at least one branch of modern mathematics.
Harvey and Green (1993) defined value added as follows:
Value added is a ‘measure' of quality in terms of the extent to which the educational experience enhances the knowledge, abilities and skills of students (HM Government, 1991, para 80; HMI, 1990, p. 7). A high quality institution would be one that greatly enhances its students (Astin, 1990). Oxbridge may produce some ‘brilliant' first class graduates but having brilliant school leavers in the first place they may not have added very much. An inner-city polytechnic may produce a good proportion of 2:1s from an intake of non-traditional entrants, unqualified returners, and so on, and therefore may be adding a tremendous amount. Exactly how much is added, however, depends on the methodology (Barnett, 1988; CNAA, 1990) and what is defined as being of value in the first place.
Harvey (2002, p. 14) noted:
There have been attempts to assess the value-added to students of their education (CNAA, 1990). Value-added refers to the enhancement of the knowledge, skills and abilities of students and the empowering of them as critical, reflective, life-long learners.
Value-added is experiencing a revival of interest, as the result of considered discussions of published league tables at all levels of education, not least the burgeoning interest in measuring ‘employability’ However, it is difficult to assess value added and most attempts have relied on measurement of entry and exit grades or abilities using somewhat crude indicators. Quantitative analysis of value-added is difficult for a variety of reasons including, the establishment of base benchmarks, measurement problems and the attribution of added value to the programme rather than some other factor. Arguably, though, the assessment of value-added is at the core of any improvement-oriented, value-for-money and transformative approach to quality assessment at the programme level.
Measuring value added
Although value added is widely regarded as a laudable measure of the contribution of higher education, there have been only spasmodic attempts to measure it and use it as a criterion for evaluating institutions’ provision and performance. Bennett (2001) states:
Easy as it is to state, assessment of value added is difficult to carry through. Let me briefly mention just a few of the more important difficulties.
· Value has many dimensions. No college or university is trying to develop only a single capability in students; all are trying to develop an array of capabilities. Measurements of value added must therefore attend to a number of different dimensions of value. We probably should develop several different measures of value added and invite institutions to select the measures that reflect their intentions.
· Institutions are different. Colleges and universities do not all seek to add the same kind of value to students’ development.
· Even liberal arts colleges do not all have the same mission. We need to assess value added against a college’s chosen aspirations--its mission. Any effort to rank colleges or universities along a single dimension is fundamentally misguided.
· Effects unfold. Some consequences of a college education may take years to express themselves. We may need to assess some aspects of value added with alumni rather than with graduating seniors.
· Complexity and Cost. Measurement of value added is likely to be complex and expensive. Yet it can be more expensive for society to have no serious assessments of whether we are succeeding in having students learn.
A value-added approach is the best way to assess student learning, but higher education has not yet committed itself to developing reliable measures of the most important dimensions of a college education. There are, on the other hand, a few other possible strategies for assessing student learning that are worth considering.
Harvey and Green (1993) add:
The measurement of value added, for example, in terms of input and output qualifications provides a quantifiable indicator of ‘added value’ but conceals the nature of the qualitative transformation.
Approaches that attempt to identify a number of dimensions of value added provide clearer ideas about what has been transformed but these still rely heavily on output assessment (DTI/CIHE, 1990; Otter, 1992)
Arguing against a fitness-for-purpose approach, Müller and Funnell (1992, p. 2) argue that quality should be explored in terms of a wide range of factors leading to a notion of ‘value addedness’. The role of educational providers from this perspective is to ensure that:
learners fully participate in, and contribute to, the learning process in such a way that they become responsible for creating, delivering and evaluating the product (Müller and Funnell, 1992, p. 175)
In short, learners should be both at the centre of the process by which learning is evaluated and at the centre of the learning process. Feedback from learners is a crucial aspect of evaluation (Müller and Funnell, incidentally, prefer qualitative rather than quantitative methods as they better explore learners’ perceptions of quality). Placing the learner at the centre shifts the emphasis from value-added measures of enhancement to empowerment.
It is arguable that attempts to determine and systematically apply value-added approaches have not been developed or encouraged because, in many countries, this may raise doubts about the reputational hierarchy of institutions, as most of the high reputation institutions take only the top performing high-school leavers and may add relatively little.
We end today by returning to the term 'value-added' and we see in this Washington Post article the elements of value-added as relates to this testing and evaluation issue and the fact that value-added will not work in these policies ------this issue is too arbitrary. These global corporations know all of this-----they are simply progressive posing as they force education policy through that is completely meant to hand all control of education to corporations to use in any way to maximize profit.
PLEASE GET RID OF POLS PUSHING THIS MESS----CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS AND BUSH NEO-CONS ARE BOTH BEHIND THIS.
Republican pols try to distance themselves from these 'Obama' policies---but they were all written in Republican think tanks----neo-conservatives like Johns Hopkins love this stuff.
Getting teacher evaluation right By Valerie Strauss September 15, 2011
Here is an edited version of a briefing on the right way to evaluate teachers that Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammond and other leading education research experts gave this week on Capitol Hill to policymakers.
This is long, but I am publishing because the issue of how to evaluate teachers and develop high-quality teaching has become a — if not THE — primary focus of federal and state education.
I have removed footnotes in the original, though sources are listed at the end. The forum was sponsored by the American Educational Research Association and the National Academy of Education.
Along with Darling-Hammond, who was the leader of President Obama’s transition team on education policy, speakers included: Stanford University Professor Edward H. Haertel, who is chair of the National Research Council Board on Testing and Assessment; Jesse Rothstein, associate professor of public policy and economics, University of California-Berkeley and former senior economist on the Council of Economic Advisers; and Arizona State University Association Professor Audrey Beardsley.
Getting Teacher Evaluation Right:
A Brief for Policymakers
There is a widespread consensus among practitioners, researchers, and policy makers that current teacher evaluation systems in most school districts do little to help teachers improve or to support personnel decision making. For this reason, new approaches to teacher evaluation are being developed and tested.
There is also a growing consensus that evidence of teachers’ contributions to student learning should be a component of teacher evaluation systems, along with evidence about the quality of teachers’ practice. “Value Added Models” (VAMs) for looking at gains in student test scores from one year to the next are promoted as tools to accomplish this goal. Policy makers can benefit from research about what these models can and cannot do, as well as from research about the effects of other approaches to teacher evaluation. This brief addresses both of these important concerns.
Research on Value-Added Models of Teacher “Effectiveness”
Researchers have developed value-added methods (VAM) for looking at gains in student achievement by using statistical methods that allow them to measure changes in student scores over time, while taking into account student characteristics and other factors often found to influence achievement. In large-scale studies, these methods have proved valuable forlooking at a range of factors affecting achievement and measuring the effects of programs or interventions.
When applied to individual teacher evaluation, the use of VAM assumes that measured student achievement gain, linked to a specific teacher, reflect that teacher’s “effectiveness.” Drawing this conclusion, however, assumes that student learning is measured well by a given test, is influenced by the teacher alone, and is independent from the growth of classmates and other aspects of the classroom context.
However, research reveals that a student’s achievement and measured gains are influenced by much more than any individual teacher. Others factors include:
*School factors such as class sizes, curriculum materials, instructional time, availability of specialists and tutors, and resources for learning (books, computers, science labs, and more)
*Home and community supports or challenges
*Individual student needs and abilities, health, and attendance
*Peer culture and achievement
*Prior teachers and schooling, as well as other current teachers
*Differential summer learning loss, which especially affects low-income children
*The specific tests used, which emphasize some kinds of learning and not others, and which rarely measure achievement that is well above or below grade level.
Most of these factors are not actually measured in value-added models, and the teacher’s effort and skill, while important, constitute a relatively small part of this complex equation. As a consequence, researchers have documented a number of problems with VAM models as accurate measures of teachers’ effectiveness.
1. Value-added models of teacher effectiveness are highly unstable.
Researchers have found that teachers’ effectiveness ratings differ substantially from class to classand from year to year, as well as from one statistical model to the next...
.... A study examining data from five separate school districts found, for example, that of teachers who scored in the bottom 20% of rankings in one year, only 20-30% had similar ratings the next year, while 25 – 45% of these teachers moved to the top part of the distribution, scoring well above average. The same was true for those who scored at the top of the distribution in one year: A small minority stayed in the same rating band the following year, while most scores moved to other parts of the distribution.
Teachers’ measured effectiveness varies significantly when different statistical methods are used. For example, when researchers used a different model to recalculate the value-added scores for teachers that were published in The Los Angeles Times in 2011, they found that from 40 to 55 percent of them would get noticeably different scores using a VA model that accounted for student assignments in a different way.
* Teachers’ value-added scores also differ significantly when different tests are used, even when these are within the same content area. For example:
* In a study using two tests measuring basic skills and higher order skills, 20%-30% of teachers who ranked in the top quartile in terms of their impacts on state tests ranked in the bottom half of impacts on more conceptually demanding tests (and vice versa).
* Teachers’ estimated effectiveness is very different for “Procedures” and “Problem Solving” subscales of the same math test.
This raises concerns both about measurement error and, when teacher evaluation results are tied to student test scores, about the effects of emphasizing “teaching to the test” at the expense of other kinds of learning, especially given the narrowness of most tests currently used in the United States.
2. Teachers’ value-added ratings are significantly affected by differences in the students who are assigned to them.
VA models require that students be assigned to teachers randomly. However, students are not randomly assigned to teachers – and statistical models cannot fully adjust for the fact that some teachers will have a disproportionate number of students who have greater challenges (students with poor attendance, who are homeless, who have severe problems at home, etc.) and those whose scores on traditional tests may not accurately reflect their learning (e.g. those who have special education needs or who are new English language learners). These factors can create both misestimates of teachers’ effectiveness and disincentives for teachers to want to teach the students who have the greatest needs.
Even when the model includes controls for prior achievement and student demographic variables, teachers are advantaged or disadvantaged based on the students they teach. Several studies have shown this by conducting tests which look at a teacher’s “effects” on their students in grade levels before or after the grade level in which he or she teaches them. Logically, for example, 5th grade teachers can’t influence their teachers’ 3rd grade test scores. So a VA model that identifies teachers’ true effects should show no effect of 5th grade teachers on their students’ 3rd grade test scores two years earlier. But studies that have looked at this have shown large “effects” – which suggest that students have at least as much bearing on the value-added measure as the teachers who actually teach them in a given year.
One study that found considerable instability in teachers’ value-added scores from class to class and year to year examined changes in student characteristics associated with the changes in teacher ratings. After controlling for prior test scores of students and student characteristics, the study still found significant correlations between teachers’ ratings and their students’ race/ethnicity, income, language background, and parent education....
3. Value-added ratings cannot disentangle the many influences on student progress
It is impossible to fully separate out the influences of students’ other teachers, as well as school conditions, on their reported learning. No single teacher accounts for all of a student’s learning. Prior teachers have lasting effects, for good or ill, on students’ later learning, and current teachers also interact to produce students’ knowledge and skills. For example, the essay writing a student learns through his history teacher may be credited to his English teacher, even if she assigns no writing; the math he learns in his physics class may be credited to his math teacher. Specific skills and topics taught in one year may not be tested until later, if at all. Some students receive tutoring, as well as help from well-educated parents. A teacher who works in a well-resourced school with specialist supports may appear to be more effective than one whose students don’t receive these supports. As Henry Braun, then at ETS, noted,
“It is always possible to produce estimates of what the model designates as teacher effects. These estimates, however, capture the contributions of a number of factors, those due to teachers being only one of them. So treating estimated teacher effects as accurate indicators of teacher effectiveness is problematic.”
Initial research on the use of value-added methods to dismiss some teachers and award bonuses to others shows that value-added ratings often do not agree with the ratings teachers receive from skilled observers, and are influenced by all of the factors described above.
For example, among several teachers dismissed in Houston as a result of their value-added test scores, one teacher, a ten-year veteran, had been “Teacher of the Year” and was rated each year as “exceeding expectations” by her supervisor. She showed positive VA scores on 8/16 of tests over four years (50% of the total observations), depending in part on the grade level she was asked to teach. Another teacher, also consistently rated as “exceeding expectations” or “proficient” by her supervisor, and also receiving positive VA scores about 50% of the time, had a noticeable drop in her value-added ratings when she was assigned to teach a large number of English Language Learners who were transitioned into her classroom. Overall, the study found that, in this system:
* Teachers cannot identify a relationship between their instructional practices and their ratings on value-added, which appear unpredictable.
* Ratings change considerably when teachers change grade levels, often from “ineffective” to “effective” and vice versa.
* Teachers teaching in grades in which English Language Learners (ELLs) are transitioned into mainstreamed classrooms are the least likely to show “added value.
* Teachers teaching larger numbers of special education students in mainstreamed classrooms are also found to have lower “value-added” scores, on average.
* Teachers teaching gifted students add little value because their students are already near the top of the test score distribution.
* Teachers report seeking to boost their scores by avoiding certain subjects and types of students, and by seeking assignments to teach particular subjects / grades.
* Teachers also report being confused and demoralized by the system.
Professional Consensus about the Use of Value-Added Methods in Teacher Evaluation
For all of these reasons, most researchers have concluded that value-added modeling (VAM) is not appropriate as a primary measure for evaluating individual teachers. A major report by the RAND Corporation concluded that:
The research base is currently insufficient to support the use of VAM for high-stakes decisions about individual teachers or schools.
Similarly, Henry Braun of the Educational Testing Service concluded in his review of research:
“VAM results should not serve as the sole or principal basis for making consequential decisions about teachers. There are many pitfalls to making causal attributions of teacher effectiveness on the basis of the kinds of data available from typical school districts. We still lack sufficient understanding of how seriously the different technical problems threaten the validity of such interpretations.”
Finally, the National Research Council’s Board on Testing and Assessment concluded that:
VAM estimates of teacher effectiveness that are based on data for a single class of students should not used to make operational decisions because such estimates are far too unstable to be considered fair or reliable.
Other Approaches to Teacher Evaluation
While value-added models based on student test scores are problematic for making evaluation decisions for individual teachers, they are useful for looking at groups of teachers for research purposes – for example, to examine how specific teaching practices or measures of teaching influence the learning of large numbers of students. The larger scale of these studies reduces error, and their frequent use of a wider range of outcome measures allows more understanding of the range of effects of particular strategies or interventions.
These kinds of analyses provide other insights for teacher evaluation, since there is a large body of evidence over many decades concerning how specific teaching practices influence student learning gains. For example, there is considerable evidence that effective teachers:
* Understand subject matter deeply and flexibly
* Connect what is to be learned to students’ prior knowledge and experience
* Create effective scaffolds and supports for learning
* Use instructional strategies that help students draw connections, apply what they are learning, practice new skills, and monitor their own learning
* Assess student learning continuously and adapt teaching to student needs
* Provide clear standards, constant feedback, and opportunities for revising work
* Develop and effectively manage a collaborative classroom in which all students have membership.
These aspects of effective teaching, supported by research, have been incorporated into professional standards for teaching that offer some useful approaches to teacher evaluation.
Using Professional Standards for Teacher Evaluation
Professional standards defining accomplished teaching were first developed by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to guide assessments for veteran teachers. Subsequently, a group of states working together under the auspices of the Council for Chief State School Officers created the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), which translated these into standards for beginning teachers, adopted by over 40 states for initial teacher licensing. A recent revision of the INTASC teaching standards has been aligned with the Common Core Standards in order to reflect the kind of teacher knowledge, skills, and understandings needed to enact the standards.
These standards have become the basis for assessments of teaching that produce ratings which are much more stable than value-added measures. At the same time, they incorporate classroom evidence of student learning and they have recently been shown in larger-scale studies to predict teachers’ value-added effectiveness, so they help ground evaluation in student learning in more stable ways. Typically the performance assessments ask teachers to document their plans and teaching for a unit of instruction linked to the state standards, adapt them for special education students and English language learners, videotape and critique lessons, and collect and evaluate evidence of student learning.
A number of studies have found that the National Board Certification assessment process identifies teachers who are more effective in raising student achievement than other teachers. Equally important, studies have found that teachers’ participation in the National Board process stimulates improvements in their practice. Similar performance assessments, used with beginning teachers in Connecticut and California, have been found to predict their students’ achievement gains on state tests. The Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT) has also been found to improve beginning teachers’ competence and to stimulate improvements in the teacher education programs that use it as a measure.
Professional standards have also been translated into teacher evaluation instruments in use at the local level. In a study of three districts using standards-based evaluation systems, researchers found significant relationships between teachers’ ratings and their students’ gain scores on standardized tests, and evidence that teachers’ practice improved as they were given frequent feedback in relation to the standards. In the schools and districts studied, assessments of teachers were based on well-articulated standards of practice evaluated through evidence including observations of teaching along with teacher pre- and post-observation interviews and, sometimes, artifacts such as lesson plans, assignments, and samples of student work.
Finding Additional Measures Related to Teacher Effectiveness
The Gates Foundation has launched a major initiative to find additional tools that are validated against student achievement gains and that can be used in teacher evaluation at the local level. The Measure of Effective Teaching (MET) Project has developed a number of tools, some of them based on the standards-based assessments described above, and others taking a new tack. Among these are observations or videotapes of teachers, supplemented with other artifacts of practice (lesson plans, assignments, etc.), that can be scored according to a set of standards which reflect practices associated with effective teaching. Also included are tools like
student surveys about teaching practice, which have been found, in an initial study, to be significantly related to student achievement gains. Countries like Singapore include a major emphasis on teacher collaboration in their evaluation systems. This kind of measure is supported by studies which have found that stronger value-added gains for students are supported by teachers who work together as teams and by higher levels of teacher collaboration for school improvement.
Some systems ask teachers to assemble evidence of student learning as part of the overall judgment of effectiveness. Such evidence is drawn from classroom and school-level assessments and documentation, including pre- and post-test measures of student learning in specific courses or curriculum areas, and evidence of student accomplishments in relation to teaching activities. A study of Arizona’s career ladder program, which requires the use of various methods of student assessment to complement evaluations of teachers’ practice, found that, over time, participating teachers demonstrated an increased ability to create locally-developed assessment tools to assess student learning gains in their classrooms; to develop and evaluate pre- and post-tests; to define measurable outcomes in hard-to-quantify areas like art, music, and physical education; and to monitor student learning growth. They also showed a greater awareness of the importance of sound curriculum development, more alignment of curriculum with district objectives, and increased focus on higher quality content, skills, and instructional strategies. Thus, the development and use of student learning evidence, in combination with examination of teaching performance, can stimulate improvements in practice.
Building Systems for Teacher Evaluation that Support Improvement and Decision Making
Systems that help teachers improve and that support timely and efficient personnel decisions have more than good instruments. Successful systems use multiple classroom observations across the year by expert evaluators looking at multiple sources of data that reflect a teacher’s instructional practice, and they provide timely and meaningful feedback to the teacher.
For example, the Teacher Advancement Program, which is based on the standards of the National Board and INTASC, as well as the standards-based assessment rubrics developed in Connecticut, ensures that teachers are evaluated four to six times a year by master / mentor teachers or principals who have been trained and certified in a rigorous four-day training. The indicators of good teaching are practices that have been found to be associated with desired student outcomes. Teachers also study the rubric and its implications for teaching and learning, look at and evaluate videotaped teaching episodes using the rubric, and engage in practice evaluations. After each observation, the evaluator and teacher meet to discuss the findings and to make a plan for ongoing growth. Ongoing professional development, mentoring, and classroom support are provided to help teachers meet these standards. Teachers in TAP schools report that this system, along with the intensive professional development offered, is substantially responsible for improvements in their practice and the gains in student achievement that have occurred in many TAP schools.
In districts that use Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) programs, highly expert mentor teachers conduct some aspects of the evaluation and provide assistance to teachers who need it.
Key features of these systems include not only the instruments used for evaluation but also the expertise of the consulting teachers or mentors – skilled teachers in the same subject areas and school levels who have released time to serve as mentors to support their fellow teachers – and the system of due process and review that involve a panel of both teachers and administrators in making recommendations about personnel decisions based on the evidence presented to them from the evaluations. Many systems using this approach have been found not only to improve teaching, but also to successfully identify teachers for continuation and tenure as well as intensive assistance and personnel action.
Summary and Conclusions
New approaches to teacher evaluation should take advantage of research on teacher effectiveness. While there are considerable challenges in the use of value-added test scores to evaluate individual teachers directly, the use of value-added methods can help to validate measures that are productive for teacher evaluation. With respect to value-added measures of student achievement tied to individual teachers, current research suggests that high-stakes, individual-level decisions, or comparisons across highly dissimilar schools or student populations, should be avoided. Valid interpretations require aggregate-level data and should ensure that background factors – including overall classroom composition – are as similar as possible across groups being compared. In general, such measures should be used only in a low-stakes fashion when they are part of an integrated analysis of what the teacher is doing and who is being taught.
Other teacher evaluation tools that have been found to be both predictive of student learning gains and productive for teacher learning include standards-based evaluation processes. These include systems like National Board Certification and performance assessments for beginning teacher licensing as well as district and school-level instruments based on professional teaching standards. Effective systems have developed an integrated set of measures that show what teachers do and what happens as a result. These measures may include evidence of student work and learning, as well as evidence of teacher practices derived from observations, videotapes, artifacts, and even student surveys.
These tools are most effective when embedded in systems that support evaluation expertise & well-grounded decisions, by ensuring that evaluators are trained, evaluation and feedback are frequent, mentoring and professional development are available, and processes are in place to support due process and timely decision making by an appropriate body.
With these features in place, evaluation can become a more useful part of a productive human capital system, supporting accurate information about teachers, helpful feedback, and well-grounded personnel decisions.