Value-added test scores for teacher evaluation: Aw shucks. . .do they have to be valid?

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Florida estimates that 60 percent of its teachers teach "untested subjects."  But a new law there also requires that half of a teacher's evaluation be based on student test score. And although the state has pledged to develop a slew of new tests to cover currently untested subjects, they won't be ready for several years.

So what's the state—and more importantly, teachers—to do until then?  According to a write up in the Huffington Post, Florida has decided that all teachers will be evaluated on a schools' overall reading scores, a decision that's got some teachers more than a little upset. One high school calculus teacher in South Dade is infuriated.  Not only will his evaluation be based on students' scores in reading, his rating will be based on how well all students in the school are reading, not just his own students. 

It's non-sensical decisions like this one that play right into the hands of the anti-test, Ravitch crowd (and indeed Ravitch is appropriately quoted in the Huffpo piece).  

This issue is not unique to Florida. With data points based on their students' scores available for only 20 percent of our nation's teachers, many states and school districts across the country are facing the dilemma. (Recommendations on teacher evaluation systems in our State of the States report may be of help here.) 

And some teachers are starting to see that getting in on the ground floor of development of evaluation systems is smart. In Los Angeles, a group entitled "Teachers for a New Unionism" plans to force a vote among the district's teaching corps that, if successful, would require their union to advocate for "teacher-led" changes to the teacher-evaluation system.

Let us know what you think; options above.

Ruth Oyeyemi