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Using Students’ Standardized Test Scores To Evaluate Teachers Is Wrong

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By contrast, as Johnson describes so well, the more intense the pressure gets, the worse we teach.

When I had administrators breathing down my neck, the students became a secondary concern. I simply did whatever my assistant principal asked me to do, even when I thought his ideas were crazy. In all honesty, my teaching probably became close to incoherent.

Administrators should learn how to evaluate teachers fairly and expertly, which does not mean making teachers so scared that they can barely function.

Johnson finishes his article by saying that until we provide equal educational resources to all students and teachers, we can’t say how well or how poorly they are performing.

Which brings me back to Ravitch’s essay, in which she moves into the Finnish education system, one of the highest-performing school systems in the world, and shows how it is the complete opposite of what we have in the U.S.

In Finland:

* Teacher education programs are highly competitive and only one in every ten applicants is accepted;
* Students take no standardized tests until the end of high school;
* Students have fifteen-minute recesses between classes;
* Compulsory education begins at age seven.

In short, the aim of Finnish education is the development of each child as a thinking, active, creative person, and not the attainment of higher test scores. And one way the Finns achieve this goal is, as Johnson would like to see in the U.S., by providing equal educational resources to all teachers.

The thrills of teaching come in the moments of truly reaching students, seeing the light bulb go on, exciting and pushing them to make new discoveries. Having my students make higher scores on standardized tests has never been my goal.


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1:00PM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

While I basically agree with the argument that standardized testing is unfair, I have to also agree that we need some kind of standard to rate the efficacy of the teachers. I raised three children and then I raised my grandson and believe me I have seen both sides. The effect that really good teachers had was phenomenal as was the damage done by poor teachers. From rocket scientists to trash haulers, there are rules to determine their job performance. My grandson had very high IQ, read 4 years above his grade level and yet was voted out of the gifted program because he was no "project oriented". Anyone who works with gifted children can tell you stories of a student failing in one subject while a genius in another. So how do we measure the effect of a teacher on his/her students? Perhaps the tests need to be improved but there has to be a scale to attain. How have we come to such a large number of high school dropouts if they, in fact, are getting the education they need to succeed? Some years ago, I was given an evaluation in which I scored "above excellent". However, my pay raise was limited due to it being scaled on lower performance. Teachers cannot maintain that they are "exclusive" to testing standards. If the standards are not working, then offer a solution. My grandchildren are now going through standardized testing where they are urged to rest, get plenty of sleep, and expectations are high for good performance, though this testing is measuring the teach

8:24AM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

Wrong for both students and teachers.

4:09PM PST on Mar 10, 2012

Andrew are missing the entire point, or are quite misled by media manipulation. The NCLB Act does not "lower expectations".....and is driven by the big 4 standardized test corporations of which has become a $600billion + industry at expense of our nations kids, turning our public school system into a private corporation with our classrooms turned into veritbal test labs with our kids the guinea pigs for profit. No, the NCLB act has resulted in such, my 3rd grader is doing the level of material his Ph.D and MBA educated parents did in 5th grade, with 3 hours of homework per night. He is highly academic and top of class in high achieving school....but pushed to such limits with no time for play. He is 8 years old. And guess what? the teachers have nothing to do with "creating valid tests" when it comes to these standardized testing craziness everyone is talking about here.....those for-profit test corporations do....and they are crafted by people that have never worked in education. And fueled my grossly manipulated media since Reagon days of how our nation's kids are "failing so badly".....such false data to fuel profits into these corporations.....funny, sounds like Military industrial complex, also driven by greed and nothing to do with "protecting national security". Indeed, there is but one person within the entire Dept of Education that has a background in education field. our public school system has been Federalized and privitized...and that my dear is w

3:45PM PST on Mar 10, 2012

To Andrew sound quite stupid

3:35PM PST on Mar 10, 2012

EXCELLENT article!!!! Yes, I've been trying to get this message across to people as well. I wrote an article some time ago about the NCLB Act and how its failing. My son goes to one of the "highest API scoring" public school in our state, and is very academic....yet he is pushed to all levels with 3 hours of homework per night, no time to age 8 he has taken to wetting the bed nearly every night. Pediatrician can't fiend any health reason, but thinks its "nerves". He has no emotional issues, very attentive in school, one of top 3 students in classroom full of high achievers in a school with high parental involvement. In the "Race to nowhere" documentary, our culture of over achievement is displayed. And one of my girlfriends kids has special same school. I see him struggling as he is expected to maintain the same high standards the non-special needs kids have. This has got to STOP!!!!!!!!! Thank you for spreading awareness...please keep it up. Here is article I wrote.

2:08AM PST on Mar 7, 2012

Testing is not the answer nor is it a fix for a system that is so badly broken, in my opinion. We are using an educational model set up in the nineteenth century. Is it any wonder it is failing us in the twenty-first century?

Students are passed along, as if on a conveyor belt. They are taught that looking at someone else's work is "cheating". In the work force it's called "collaberation", for example. The amount of curriculum is perscribed and dished out over a nine month period. Some children get it, some don't - everybody moves on, regardless.

We need a new concept, not another test. It's hard to think out of the box when you are educated IN the box.

1:06AM PST on Mar 7, 2012

I suppose PE teachers would be penalized if their disabled students failed PE. This whole No child left behind law is poorly crafted and not rooted in reality. Many children do not do well on tests yet know the material. We need to overhaul our schools and could take some lessons from Finland.

7:42PM PST on Mar 6, 2012

wrong indeed!

5:23PM PST on Mar 6, 2012

In the world's finest education system in Norway, this would never be considered.

3:23PM PST on Mar 6, 2012

Not every teacher is a good teacher, nor are they all bad but you can test it in the system its self Those who fail to reach kids will drop out and many more (good ones too) for the other reasons.
Besides how can they be responsible for individuals when they're constantly doing group jobs, small or big, still a group procedure. That while even parents don't seem to be capable to manage two or maybe five kids at home. Well.. guess someone has to be blamed for dying economics, you don't pay parents to do their job so why bother to confront or evaluate them.
So much easier to demotivate teachers, I've seen it all the time.

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