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[Susan notes: I wanted to read the article to which this letter refers, so I put "Teacher evals face real test" into a search on the newspaper site. It asked me if I had meant to search for "Teacher EVILS face real test."

The article was just an echo chamber for the Harvard press release as well as sound bites from Cuomo and NYSUT.]

Published in Journal News

To the editor

Re Teacher evals face real test, not just fight, Jan 22. article:

The above article cites a study conducted by researchers at Harvard and Columbia universities and the National Bureau of Economic Research, which found that the impact of test scores is a good way to measure teacher quality.

The article states, "Teachers who help raise scores improve long-term outcomes for students, including earnings."

However, analysis of this study reveals that the conclusions, which tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years, is largely based on data collected in the 1990s before the NCLB's high-stakes testing era began.

Now, test preparation drives curriculum and instruction.

On Page 5 of the study, the researchers state, "An important limitation of our analysis is that teachers were not incentivized based on test scores in the school district and time period we study."

Those of us who study teacher effectiveness understand that the impact of teachers centers much more on the quality of daily instruction and teacher-student-family interactions.

The impact also centers on knowledgeable teachers who understand that the best way to prepare students for tests is by teaching essential reading and writing skills and strategies rather than implementing a test-prep curriculum.

Think about the special teachers who enriched your life.

Was it because they prepared you for tests? Or, was it because they created motivational, enriching learning experiences and demonstrated on a daily basis that they valued all aspects of your life?

The writer is professor of education at St. Thomas Aquinas College.

Michael L. Shaw

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