Gordon MacInnes of The Century Foundation has published this brief on the topic of using student test scores to measure teacher effectiveness, a proposition that has been advanced by a number of school reformers. This very controversial topic recently returned to news headlines after the New Haven (CT) teachers’ union signed a contract that includes student performance in the evaluation process tied to teacher salary.*
Among the reasons MacInnes gives for NOT using student test scores to ‘grade’ teacher performance:
- Students are not randomly assigned to teachers (nor to schools) – some teachers might only be assigned students perceived to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’
- Standardized tests are evaluated for reliability and validity based on their intended purpose, such as assessing 4th Grade math proficiency, not for evaluating teachers
- Compensating teachers according to individual performance might lessen the impetus for teachers to collaborate and share best practices
*See this New Haven Register (CT) article for more information on the contract signed by New Haven teachers.