The LA Times has obtained standardized test results from the Los Angeles school district and is using that information to publish ratings of individual teachers. There’s little doubt that their methodology has flaws, but that’s an argument for better metrics and analysis, not shutting down this line of inquiry. I am a huge believer in public education — it’s probably the most successful government program ever launched — but there’s a bit of a black hole when it comes to accountability. There’s some understanding of which school districts and schools are better than others, but very little information on which teachers are good at their jobs and which ones aren’t.
A lot of people are complaining already that the teachers are being judged on the basis of performance on standardized tests and that there’s more to teaching than improving test performance. I’d agree, but judging them on that basis puts them in the same boat as their students. Students are judged based on their performance on standardized tests starting at an early age and ending when they apply to graduate school. If it’s not fair to judge a teacher based on how their students do on achievement tests, how is it fair to choose which kids get to go to magnet schools based on the results of those same tests?
It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.