Teachers Accountable for Achievement Gains Now More than Ever

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Forty-one states now require that students’ growth on large-scale standardized test scores (e.g., via VAMs) be used for teacher evaluation and accountability purposes. Recent studies have also demonstrated this marked increase over the last few years (see another forthcoming with my former doctoral student Clarin Collins in Teachers College Record), but this article in the Huffington Post provides a decent graphic illustrating where the nation currently is in terms of these initiatives/policies.

teacher evaluations

However, I do have to add a Consumer Alert! While the research evidence summarized in this article suggests that America public school teachers’ “average SAT scores have increased significantly over the last decade [from 2011-2008],” it is both implicitly and explicitly suggested throughout this article that this finding somehow yields evidence that current teacher evaluation/accountability reforms in this area are working? And that “we should keep heading in [this] direction?”

Notably, the “National Council on Teacher Quality attributed the rapid pace of change to the Race to the Top, the federal government competition that had recession-addled states vie for money in exchange for implementing education reforms, such as teacher evaluations.” However, the current teacher evaluation/accountability reforms did not really start until 2008 at the earliest, before Race to the Top, and well before the final year for which teachers’ SAT scores were examined here (i.e., 2008). These SAT gains have literally nothing to do with the teacher evaluation and accountability “reforms” currently underway!

It is remiss to covertly suggest in any way, shape, or form that one (i.e., increased SAT scores) is evidencing that the other (i.e., test-based accountability) works. This is not overly surprising, however, as the three groups associated with this piece include the uber-conservatives: Education Next, Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, and the National Council on Teacher Quality. The simplistic agenda being advanced with data that cannot be used in ways to advance the agenda (with any validity) should be both critically and carefully consumed, especially as the unfounded statements ensue throughout this piece regardless.

6 thoughts on “Teachers Accountable for Achievement Gains Now More than Ever

  1. Hello,

    Gosh, teachers SAT scores started going up in 2008. Gee, what else happened in 2008? Hmm? Could it have been the greatest recession since the 1930’s maybe? A recession in which the job prospects for college grads were severely limited, so that educated people would even consider low paying, low prestige teaching jobs? Maybe? Correlation is not causation and I can’t prove my contention, but I think my scenario makes more sense that the VAT folk’s. Especially considering that many experienced teachers are getting layed off and being temprarily replaced with TFA teachers, who might just have had higher SAT scores. And why would better candidates be flocking to a profession that is laying people off?

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