I have read lately about the idea of using “multiple measures” to evaluate teachers. This policy is getting much press from reformers, education officials and union leaders. This idea is just a reaction to growing public sentiment against using student test scores to judge teachers. The theory is that by using multiple measures we will somehow place less emphasis on the results of high-stakes exams therefore giving teachers a fair evaluation.
The bottom line is that the validity of using the results of a snap shot in time, the test, is not a true measure of student or teacher achievement regardless of the percentage value of the test score used in teacher evaluation.
In New York we can sound off about multiple measures until we are blue in the face, but the reality is that the test result is paramount in evaluating teachers. The teacher evaluation law in New York contains this gotcha phrase:
Teachers rated ineffective on student performance based on objective assessments must be rated ineffective overall. Teachers who are developing or ineffective will get assistance and support to improve performance. Teachers who remain ineffective can be removed from classrooms.
So regardless of all of the other measures of teacher quality, if an educator has poor state assessment results that teacher is rated ineffective. Two years of ineffective ratings can lead to dismissal in New York. The reality is that instead of the state assessment being worth 20% of a teacher’s evaluation, it is 100%. The value of the test score gets more ominous as growth scores and value-added are phased into the evaluation process. No longer will teachers of special education, ELL and in areas of poverty be under the high-stakes testing gun- we all will.