In Monday’s edition of “What We’re Reading”, I provided links to a number of articles and blogs discussing teacher quality, particularly as regards the equitable distribution of “good” teachers. Many have raised issues with this line of thinking — instead of redistributing teachers, they argue, we should be making sure that all teachers have the resources and support they need to be highly effective. But to some extent, teachers, like those in any profession, need to be able to measure their performance so that administrators and districts can gauge their performance, target professional development, and relocate or fire them if necessary. How do we measure teacher performance?
Per the Times-Pic, a Louisiana House panel just approved a plan to incorporate student achievement on state standardized tests into teacher evaluations. Student achievement data would make up part of a “value-added assessment” that would, in turn, make up 50% of annual teacher evaluations (which are now conducted a minimum of every three years).
Using student achievement on standardized tests to measure teacher effectiveness makes me a little nervous, because there are a number of factors that potentially make it more difficult for some teachers to raise student achievement. If teachers in high-need schools do not have adequate support or resources to increase student achievement, certainly they will not look as effective as, say, teachers at Ben Franklin High or Lusher. But I feel better about this plan, because student achievement data is only one part of the evaluation. I’d be interested to see what evaluation models local districts come up with, because it seems like there is room for a wide enough array of values to comprise the 50% value-added assessment, with, presumably, qualitative data from teacher observations making up the other 50%. If districts take advantage of this, there’s the possibility of having a comprehensive assessment model that doesn’t rely too heavily on a single data point and that takes into account the full range of a teacher’s responsibilities.
But I’m interested to know what others think. Is this potentially a good plan? What are the data points that should be emphasized in teacher assessments? Is there a better way to measure teachers’ influence on their students than through the state’s standardized tests? If you have any thoughts, feel free to add them to the comments section below.