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[Susan notes: As usual, Stephen Krashen offers EVIDENCE in his letter. Kudos.]

Published in USA Today
02/06/2012
http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/letters/story/2012-02-06/teacher-tenure-public-schools/52992836/1

To the editor

The article "States weaken tenure rights for teachers" emphasizes the importance of evaluating teacher effectiveness. A major problem is that these evaluations are often based on students' gains on standardized tests, called "value-added" measures.



A number of studies have shown that value-added measures are very unstable: Teachers' ratings based on previous years are weak predictors of test scores at the end of a year with new students. A teacher who succeeds in boosting scores with one group will not necessarily succeed with others. Different tests can result in different scores for the same teacher.



Value-added evaluations also ignore the huge impact of factors beyond the teachers' control. Finally, there are ways of pumping up test scores without student learning, including teaching test-taking strategies and making sure weak students don't take the test.



Nobody objects to teachers being evaluated on their effectiveness. Using gains on standardized tests is a bad way to do it.

Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus, USC


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