Using student standardized test scores to evaluate teachers, a trend gaining steam in a growing number of states in recent years as a result of the federal “Race to the Top” program, isn’t about improving education. It is, and always has been, about ranking, sorting, and shaming schools and educators. But, just as controversial testing regimens don’t accurately capture student learning or progress in the classroom, standardized, homogenized teacher evaluations don’t capture what teachers do for students. Teaching and learning is hardly a beauty pageant. Educators and kids are more than a set of scores.
I learned recently that I don’t live in the real world: before that, I’d assumed that if my degrees, certifications and teaching career didn’t qualify me as a resident of the “real world,” then the taxes, rent, car payments and student loans that I am dutifully paying off certainly would. But each time my eyes wander into the comments section of an education-related article, I’m told that my fellow educators and I inhabit an alternate universe in which we are the villains, responsible for all of society’s ills.