Editor’s Note: In response to a recent SchoolBook post and other media coverage of negotiations for a teacher evaluation deal, SchoolBook received a number of comments from people who felt that value-added metrics were not only detrimental to teachers but they were an unproven methodology. As one blogger asked: “So where is the space to make the point that this evaluation system is controversial? And unproven? Maybe even harmful?”
Below we include a critique from teacher and contributor Arthur Goldstein. Education historian and writer Diane Ravitch wrote on this topic here, as did Tim Clifford here. SchoolBook had a round-up of reactions to the statewide deal announced back in February. Keep the comments coming. This issue is far from resolved!
The best way to improve education in our schools, I keep reading, is through sorely needed constructive feedback. The latest suggestion sounds something like this: “Your class’s test scores stink. If they aren’t better by next year, you’re fired.”
But there is a problem with this approach. If you read some of the critiques highlighted above or check the growing list of New York State principals who oppose the state reliance on test scores to rate teachers, you begin to suspect that there may be some fundamental flaws to this “value-added” system.
With further examination, you may conclude it has no validity whatsoever. I have.
I’ve argued this with representatives of my union. They tell me that current evaluation system is at the sole discretion of principals, and a quantifiable measurement will bring some objectivity to the process. The implication, evidently, is that it’s preferable to get an unfair rating from test scores than from a crazy principal. To a teacher being fired for no good reason, that may prove cold comfort.