Teacher Evaluations

In addition to the other inappropriate high stakes uses of tests, Florida is using standardized tests scores as part of its mandated teacher evaluation systems. The idea is to evaluate teachers based on student progression, as required by Florida statute. Not only does this concept fail to take into account external factors that have a large impact on student success (such a socioeconomic status or parental involvement), the requirement leads to many additional tests for our children that are used primarily to evaluate teachers.

One of the most popular ways to evaluate teachers is called VAM (Value-Added-Model). VAM is a very complicated formula that uses a predicted score for a student based on a number of factors, and uses the difference between that and their actual score to measure a teacher’s value.

VAM3

While the state-mandated VAM requirement was removed in 2017, many districts are still using it because the state statute still requires that teachers be evaluated based on student progression, and it’s difficult to find a way to do this given the lack of resources provided by the state to meet these statutory requirements.

There is mounting research and evidence that VAM, and other methods that use test scores to evaluate teachers, are not reliable measurements of teacher quality.

  • American Statistical Association says VAM (value-added method) is not a reliable way to measure teacher quality.
  • Research published by the Economic Policy Institute presents the problems with using student test scores to evaluate teachers.
  • Fairtest.org presents strong research, with sources noted, about why standardized tests are not a valid measure of teacher quality.
  • This article includes a video from Florida teacher, Luke Flynt, with hard facts about flaws in the state’s VAM formula, noting specific instances of how his students’ higher than perfect scores actually brought his evaluating rating down.
  • Professor David Berliner at Arizona State University demonstrates why standardized tests reflect the demographics of the students who are tested and ignore teacher behavior.
  • Working paper from a professor and student at Brown University indicating that increasing test scores do not correlate to quality teaching.

Teachers and others are speaking out about this misuse of tests, which is contributing to a statewide teacher shortage.

 

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