The subject of statewide testing being connected to teacher evaluations has been an issue that I have learned a great deal about over the past couple months. My internship placement is at a Seattle Public School and I was around many educators during the strike. Though most of the media coverage of the recent Seattle Education Association strike was on the proposed salary increase, teachers also felt strongly about eliminating the connection between statewide testing and teacher evaluations. It became apparent how strong teachers felt about eliminating this correlation within the district. When the negotiations ended, teachers were pleased with the outcome in regards to eradicating the policies connecting statewide testing with teacher evaluations. I share this same sentiment.
The main reason I do not believe that statewide testing should be connected to teacher evaluations is because it not an accurate evaluation of a teacher’s effectiveness. There are too many factors outside of a teacher’s control that could affect a student’s performance on a statewide test. For example, if a student were to show up for testing after not sleeping the night before or not having eaten for long periods of time, their performance could be hindered. These circumstances and the product of these circumstances are not a representation of a teacher’s effectiveness, but more unfortunate and adverse situations that students unfortunately encounter.
Also, connecting statewide testing and teacher evaluations does not account for different learners and their unique backgrounds. For example, if students enter a classroom without basic skills for a variety of reasons, it sets unrealistic expectations that those students will perform adequately on statewide testing regardless of the educator. Once again, this is not a representation of a teacher’s ability or effectiveness, but the reality of each student’s unique journey as a learner. It is encouraging to know that Washington State has eliminated this correlation, which exemplifies an understanding of this misrepresentation in education. This is reassuring as a future educator in this state.
Lastly, grades should not be connected to a teacher’s evaluation. Hypothetically, if all students received an “A” for a course that does not represent an effective educator. It may even represent low standards. The most accurate approach to evaluating educators is consistent observation within the school. Also, administrators must be tuned-in to the learning community and listen to the voices of students.