A test too far

When it comes to teacher evaluations, states
have been making good progress in creating relevant, deliberate, and rigorous appraisal
systems that combine test data, classroom observations, and other smart metrics
to weigh teacher effectiveness. But have you ever heard of too much of a good
thing? New York City is now developing over a dozen pre- and post-course standardized
tests for students in elementary through high school, the scores of which will constitute
40 percent of teachers’ evaluations. These tests are for subjects and grades not
currently assessed by the statewide Regents system, thereby addressing a serious
data shortfall under the present system. Surely tying student results to
teacher ratings is a swell idea. But testing overload, and the resulting
testing backlash, are serious causes for concern; we worry that this initiative
could be the straw the breaks the camel’s back. Experimentation and variation
in teacher evaluation models is certainly in order, but this particular version
gives us pause.

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Click to listen to commentary on NYC's new tests from the Education Gadfly Show podcast


for Pupils, But the Grades Go to Teachers
,” by Sharon Otterman, New York Times, May 23, 2011.