Think again about rating teachers with student results, study says
The trend nationally (Race to the Top) and in Florida (SB 6) is to more heavily rely on student test results for school teacher evaluations and pay.
A new study from the Economic Policy Institute suggests that such an approach might not be the best way to go. Its title makes the point: "Problems with the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers." From the summary:
"While there are good reasons for concern about the current system of teacher evaluation, there are also good reasons to be concerned about claims that measuring teachers’ effectiveness largely by student test scores will lead to improved student achievement. If new laws or policies specifically require that teachers be fired if their students’ test scores do not rise by a certain amount, then more teachers might well be terminated than is now the case. But there is not strong evidence to indicate either that the departing teachers would actually be the weakest teachers, or that the departing teachers would be replaced by more effective ones. There is also little or no evidence for the claim that teachers will be more motivated to improve student learning if teachers are evaluated or monetarily rewarded for student test score gains."
So many other factors are at play, from a student's home life to even the effect that a student's other teachers have. The report, by some leading names in education research, examines several of the issues at hand and concludes that tests alone do not provide enough good information about a teacher's worth.
Test results can factor in. But "there is simply no shortcut to the identification and removal of ineffective teachers. It must surely be done, but such actions will unlikely be successful if they are based on over-reliance on student test scores whose flaws can so easily provide the basis for successful challenges to any personnel action."