Teacher Accountability: What Should It Mean?

From Valerie Strauss:

"Teacher accountability" is one of the central themes of President Obama’s new vision for the post-No Child Left Behind era, and that two-word term, unfortunately, has come to mean something it shouldn’t.

Today in the world of education the phrase has come to mean how well a teacher’s students perform on standardized tests. If the students do well, the teacher is considered excellent. If the students haven’t done well, the teacher is not excellent.

Here are just a few of the problems with this scheme:

If we had a test, standardized or not, that really was a complete measure of a teacher’s performance -- or a student’s, for that matter -- it would be hard to argue against its use.

But let’s be clear: We don’t. Our standardized tests are rudimentary assessments, still. They are nowhere near sophisticated enough -- if indeed any single test can be -- to be used as a real measure of performance.


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