Measuring up in non-tested subjects

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The debate rages on as to the validity of measuring teacher effectiveness based on standardized test results. Meanwhile, there's another less vocal debate: how do we measure the effectiveness of those teachers of non-tested subjects?  NCTQ has added a new question to its Tr3 database which explores this very issue.  The data shows a clear absence of consensus.  

A remarkable 70 of the 114 districts in our Tr3 database, from 30 states, are or will soon be requiring evidence of student achievement or growth on teacher evaluations. State law largely dictates what districts must do, some with more specificity than others. In forty-six districts in 13 states student growth in traditionally non-tested subjects is measured by standardized tests specially developed for the subjects--but, for purposes of teacher evaluation, that only counts as one measure of student achievement. In every one of these 46 cases, the state has directed districts to develop multiple measures of student achievement, be they locally-developed standardized subject-area tests or classroom-based measurements determined by the teacher and evaluator. These are often student learning or growth goals which measure the students' progress over the school year.

One thing is certain. As with almost all things related to teacher evaluation, no one is claiming to have found the magic bullet for evaluating teachers of non-tested subjects. The methods we're seeing today will most likely evolve in the next few years. Most notably, we are apt to see greater and greater use of subject-area tests which allow comparison of teachers across grades. Since subject-area tests are still in development in many states and districts, evaluators currently rely on more classroom-based measures such as student work, end of year exams and growth goals. Keep your eye on our Tr3 database to see how this changes over time.