Law and Public Policy

Should Our Teachers be Evaluated on Student Test Scores?

September 12, 2012  • Jeff Harris and Nayna Sasidharan

Aspen_ElectsThe recent strike of public school teachers in Chicago has put a spotlight on the issue of teacher evaluation. As the LA Times wrote Tuesday, this current strike amplifies the debate on using standardized test scores in evaluating teacher performance.

Earlier this year, Washington, DC Public Schools Superintendent Kaya Henderson explained what reforms DC undertook, in partnership with the teachers union, to improve their teacher evaluations. Several key steps included regular in-class teacher observations, judging work being done outside the classroom, and measuring student achievement on both classroom tests and standardized tests. Watch:

(Watch the full panel from the Aspen Institute’s State of Race event).

Our Education and Society Program took a deeper look into the reforms enacted by DC Public Schools in their report on “Building Teacher Evaluation Systems: Learning From Leading Efforts,” and created a guide for developing teacher evaluation systems. 

One of the nation’s largest teachers’ unions, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), has come out in full support of Chicago’s teachers in their current efforts in contract negotitations. AFT President Randi Weingarten spoke about evaluating teachers based on test scores — and her concerns about the value of modern-day standardized tests — during our New York Ideas event:

(Watch the full panel: Beyond the Battles: Collaborative Efforts Transforming Today’s Schools featuring Newark Schools State District Superintendent Cami Anderson and others from New York Ideas.)