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Letters to the Editor
What you need to know for 07/26/2017

Standardized testing is no way to judge a teacher

Standardized testing is no way to judge a teacher

*Standardized testing is no way to judge a teacher

Standardized testing is no way to judge a teacher

I go to school every day. Without teachers, there would be no school. Teachers seem to be the mom or dad of the classroom, because they seem like they are always right. Along with that, they always seem to be there to help you, because that is their job.

Teachers are the heart of all education. As a student, I understand that. Unfortunately, the current system of evaluating teachers is unfair and also very problematic. This system is used to try to judge teachers on how well they teach. Bad results can lead to negative job consequences.

A part of the evaluation of teachers is based on classroom evaluation. According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Measures of Effective Teaching Project (MET), the current system of classroom observation is ineffective. I completely agree.

In my school district, only two observations are used per year. MET researchers find that four observations a year is not enough, let alone two.

Most teacher evaluations are scheduled in advance. This results in teachers often increasing their teaching quality for these observations. This results in many classroom observations being an inaccurate measure of a teacher’s skills. It is wrong that teachers are losing their jobs due to this system. This is just one part of the current system of teacher evaluation that needs to be changed.

Teachers are also evaluated on student’s achievement on standardized tests. I have taken these tests for five years of my school career. Each year, I must take 22 tests. Twenty-two. These tests aren’t designed to evaluate teachers, yet they are used in that way and can result in negative job consequences.

Some people might feel that if the teacher does their job their student will do fine, but that is not the case. Students’ performance on these tests is not only affected by that student’s teacher, it is affected by other factors. These factors include previous teachers, tutors, and what home is like. For example, I believe I am a good student and I think part of that has to do with my home life. Both of my parents went through college and grad school. When I have any questions on my homework, they are there to help me. I [attribute] part of my academic success to my parents.

According to New York state, value-added test scores (multiple years of tests scores combined) count as 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation, and the other 60 percent is classroom observations. Yet, if a teacher is rated ineffective due to standardized tests, then that teacher must be rated ineffective overall. So, basically, standardized test have veto power. I don’t think value-added test scores should have even close to this much power when judging a teacher.

The job consequences that can come from an ineffective rating can cause teachers to overprepare for standardized tests. These teachers are increasing their chances of getting a good rating, but they are also taking away from a kid’s education. In the end, isn’t that what this is all about?

Teachers are vital to our society. They need to be evaluated by a smarter and more honest system, because they truly deserve it.

Colin Buyck


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