There are too many issues connected with the testing of students to consider it an objective and effective tool to evaluate teacher effectiveness. Snapshots in family albums rarely capture anything more than momentary impressions of a person; they don’t reveal the intensely fluid dynamics of an individual’s living.
With students during their formative years, there’s considerably more clowning around coming from any teacher’s classroom than meets the eye.
Test days are notoriously poor days to get a “norm” reading, especially since we have given so many high-stakes tests that students are immune to their importance.
High-risk student populations with highly intelligent students don’t test well due to socio-economic experiences, migrant status, weak peer relations, nutrition, preoccupation with day-to-day survival, homelessness and poor, if non-existent, medical care — not to mention little or no meaningful vetting of invisible “rules” for academic success. And then comes the “X” factor: street drugs. Those lagging students are often extremely precocious leaders among their peers.
Using annual standardized scores of students for even a portion of my teacher-effectiveness evaluation would get me fired. Before that happens, I will find another career. As a teacher working on a factory-like production line, my supervisor would remove me, arrange some “exit” counseling with no separation “bonus,” and ensure no other schools would hire me in any state.
The business of education does not produce life-changing moments on demand. My students’ graduation rates for the past five years come in around 95 percent. Maybe as a society we should be finding cures for educational neglect, rather than just cracking whips after it’s almost too late to make any difference.