it is how they are making money.
“They are giving teachers money and then telling them they have to share it with students,” said David Bowers, an author of a new book on the subject.
This year, the Obama administration issued guidance for schools telling them to pay teachers based on students’ test score gains instead of tenure.
The guidance made clear that the goal of the new school year and how to measure teacher excellence should be “to raise achievement for students in all subjects.”
“If you just take that letter and try to follow what that means, I think you would just be making things a lot harder for teachers,” said Michael Rebell, head of the Chicago Teachers Union.
Teacher unions also worry about the impact of these new evaluations on their members.
“Every time you do it, each time a teacher can only learn from a particular student, it’s really damaging to teachers as leaders of these schools and really harming the teaching professions in the future,” said Michael White, president of the Indiana State Education Association.
“If we’re going to have tests that measure that a teacher is capable of taking on additional tasks in the classroom, if we’re going to give them grades for that, that can’t be good for anybody,” said Bowers.
The Obama administration also set a deadline of the end of the year for school districts to set teacher evaluation systems on statewide tests, but school districts say even that deadline is impossible to meet because of the high number of standardized questions to be answered.
There are also questions from school districts about the amount of information they must hand over during teacher evaluations.
Indiana school Superintendent Mike Chitwood recently announced that parents of students in high schools in the north central region may now be notified after their child is selected for a teacher evaluation. (Click here for video of Chitwood’s press conference.)
One parent, who requested anonymity, said the district is collecting data on whether teachers are meeting students’ needs through an Excel spreadsheet and whether students who fail their evaluations are returning next year.
Chitwood says the system will give parents “as much as they want” that information. “It will be about what’s required, not a list of who was rated well or not well.”
The new tests have also been criticized for taking too long, with a new study showing that they took nearly two hours longer than high-stakes standardized tests in New Delhi, India, last year.
“It’s the fastest-changing educational environment in history, and we need a set of tests that fit the new expectations of this day and this place,” said Bowers.
One parent says she hopes Indiana students are learning from these tests.
“I think my daughter has learned the importance of taking on multiple subjects,” said the mom. “I think she has learned that you have to be flexible. The more flexibility we can give to students, the better they’re going to be.”
And what about these tests and all the money they are bringing in? Teachers are not thrilled about it.
“There are a lot of parents who are excited about it – those looking for information,” said Rebel. “But for us teachers, we believe that it’s a tool to keep kids in school, and that’s why it’s so important.”
But the district says the new tests help to ensure that
it is how they are making money.