Day: <span>October 28, 2015</span>

Obama still would use tests to evaluate teachers


Although the Obama administration is partially retreating on standardized testing, it is not giving up on the discredited idea of tying student test scores to teacher evaluations, at least not entirely. The administration’s “Testing Action Plan” calls only for “reducing the reliance on student test scores” for evaluations.

This was pointed out by Washington Post reporter Valerie Strauss, who also reminded us that as recently as last year the Education Department pulled Washington state’s No Child Left Behind waiver because that state’s legislature didn’t require its teachers to be evaluated by test scores.

The administration won’t let loose of that bad idea despite the fact that assessment experts, including the American Statistical Association, have said the so-called “value added-measurement,” which includes test scores, is an unreliable, invalid tool for evaluating teachers. That means test scores shouldn’t be used in evaluations at all.

This reinforces the importance of educators and parents making themselves heard, loudly and clearly, when the new Texas Commission on the Next generation of Assessments and Accountability is appointed and begins its work. As I noted in my previous blog post, this commission will be appointed by the governor, the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the House to make recommendations to the 2017 Legislature on a new school accountability system.

The panel will include at least two parents and two educators, but it needs to hear from thousands of Texans who are weary of the testing regime. This is critical because, believe me, the panel also will hear from the privatization interests that have a huge financial stake in preserving testing.