Things to know about standardized testing and teacher evaluation

The results of standardized tests are used not just to assess our kids, but also to evaluate our teachers and principals. This is known as a Value Added Model (VAM) of assessing teachers, and is popular within the “Education Reform” movement.  But many people have questioned the validity of using such measures, and have asked what effect this has on the education of our children.

What’s Happening in Chicago

Currently, 25% of a CPS teacher’s evaluation is based on results from REACH and NWEA MAP testing.  This includes teachers in art, gym, social studies, and science, all subjects that we don’t normally associate with standardized testing.  This percentage will eventually increase to 30% of teacher evaluations.

Where does the current 25% come from?  For English & Math teachers, 10% is based on their students’ REACH assessments, 15% is based on their students’ NWEA MAP scores.  For other teachers, 15% is based on their students’ REACH assessments, and 10% is based on the school-wide literacy average.

In January 2013, CPS announced a new principal evaluation system.  From an article in Catalyst Chicago:

“Elementary principals will be rated on student growth in math and reading on the NWEA test, as well as 8th-grade EXPLORE test scores. High school principals will be rated on students’ growth on the EXPLORE, PLAN, and ACT tests. (EXPLORE and PLAN are precursor tests to the ACT.)

District officials haven’t decided yet how much weight will be assigned to each factor, but said principals will be rated most heavily on improvement among students who are considered “high-risk” and overall improvement in test scores. Overall, the different measures of student growth will add up to 50 percent of a principal’s evaluation.”


For Further Reading

There have been numerous articles written about using student test data to evaluate teachers.  If you want to dive into the topic, here are some good ones to start with.


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