Should student test scores be used to evaluate teachers? Yes, writes education professor Thomas Kane in this opinion article. Student gains in test scores over the course of a year should be one factor considered in teacher evaluations. Studies show, he says, that student achievement gains do provide valuable information about teacher effectiveness. No, says education professor Linda Darling-Hammond. Research indicates that student test scores measure too many things other than teacher effectiveness and are too unreliable to be used to make high-stakes decisions.
Educators and experts offer their views on whether two or three years of data on teachers can, and should be used to determine their effectiveness. Value-added data can be a useful tool to track teacher effectiveness and should be used in combination with other information to rate teachers, write Harvard University economists Raj Chetty and John N. Friedman, co-authors of a recent study on the subject. Others, including teacher Dawn Shirk, write that student test scores are only part of the equation and an over-reliance on them to rate teachers will lead to a narrowed curriculum and other challenges.
Teacher effectiveness should not be the focus of the reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act, according to Jay P. Urwitz, a member of the board of trustees of Teachers College, Columbia University. In this column, he writes that instead of relying on teacher performance, the law should focus on how to improve student learning, which will in turn improve student achievement.
Michigan officials are looking to revamp requirements for licensing teachers and are considering tying teachers' effectiveness to their ability to get and keep a teaching license. June Teisan, a National Board Certified Teacher and a former Michigan Teacher of the Year, says she supports a system that assesses teachers based on several factors. "To be a good teacher, you have to have heart for the kids, integrity to push for excellence and a lot of creativity. And it takes stamina like you wouldn't believe," Teisan said.