Speaking of Teacher Evaluations

Yesterday I posted an article about the Stull Act and it got me thinking even more about how we evaluate teachers (something I actually think about often). It’s a topic much larger than this one post, but here are my thoughts…today.

Education, as a social and political issue should be relatively simple. It should receive funding to hire, retain and continually train good teachers because they in turn educate children who go on to be in leadership positions in all fields from science to politics to the military to education etc. Bad teachers should either receive professional development training or let go, as is the case in many other fields.

In theory, it actually makes a whole lot of sense to me for teachers to be evaluated, in part, on how their students do on standardized tests. As much as I’m not a huge supporter of standardized tests (based on my personal experience doing terribly on them from a young age), working in the world of college admissions, I understand the reality for a need to have universal benchmarks. I assume school systems seek something similar. It’s difficult to quantify anything without concrete numbers – so, in college admission, it’s difficult to compare students to each other without a universal benchmark. We do try, but all high school grades are not created equally, some teachers are great writers and write strong recommendations, while others cannot actually write well themselves, thus submitting sub par recommendations. Some students complete their college essays all on their own, whiles others have substantial resources to get support.

But, I am straying from the issue – teacher evaluations. Is it possible to teach for a test while facilitating a holistic educational experience? This fixation with standardized test scores as the goal does seem to defeat the purpose of a true education, which in my mind is a process of skill development, exploration, creativity, success and failure. I don’t believe a standardized test result can capture that. But, if not a standardized test, then what?

Let me be very clear, the issue is not nearly this simple and not ever having been a classroom teacher, my perspective is in essence from the ‘outside’. What are your thoughts? To evaluate based on standardized tests or not?


Filed under College Access, Parent Resources

2 responses to “Speaking of Teacher Evaluations

  1. alison2012internship

    Thanks for your insightful blog post. I wrote a post on this topic recently. I am somewhat mixed on how I feel about standardized tests. I understand that they are a means of measuring progress and where students are in their learning (though I’m still skeptical of how accurate of “measuring” they do). My concern is what students miss out on as a result of the heavy emphasis on standardized tests. I worry that teaching is sometimes more geared towards meeting standards on these tests, taking away freedom for exploration, creativity, and memorable learning experiences.

    • Thank you for commenting – I agree it’s incredibly confusing. I generally disagree with concept of standardized tests because I think they inherently favor people with greater access to resources and at the same time, I do understand and appreciate the need for something, anything, to be a basic benchmark. The dilemma for me is I’ve seen the love of learning stolen from kids because of the focus on tests and that in and of itself often ruins the potential for the desire to be a life long learner.

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