Use value-added analysis as a trigger to subjective, consequential evaluations

What is a fan of school reform to do about the weak state of teacher-evaluation models?

Marcus Winters writes about the need for doing something about the appalling state of teacher evaluation: While “studies show that the difference between a student’s being assigned to a good or bad teacher can mean as much as a grade level’s worth of learning over the course of a school year”, “even the nation’s lowest-performing school districts routinely rate more than 95 percent of their teachers as satisfactory or higher.”

What about classroom observations? He says they are “thoroughly subjective.” While he applauds value-added assessment, Winters warns that “given its messiness—especially when tied to stakes as high as people’s jobs—it cannot be used in isolation.”Yet, he says, we shouldn’t ignore value-added assessments altogether. Use them as triggers: “The real lesson [of the Los Angeles Times’ analysis] is that test scores are best used to raise red flags about a teacher’s objective performance; rigorous subjective assessment should follow, to ensure that the teacher is truly performing poorly.”

But due to collective bargaining agreements, tenure, and inability of teachers to evaluate teachers, that evaluation–and subsequent booting of incompetent–seldom happens.

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