Scoring the Teachers

Bad student test results could lead to more meddling from the boss.

For weeks, the Seattle Education Association had said it was dead set against using student test scores to evaluate teachers. Then last week, Seattle Public Schools and the teachers' union announced that they had reached an agreement that will, in the district's characterization, use "student growth measures as part of the new evaluation." Did the union cave? SEA president Olga Addae insists it didn't. In fact, she maintains that test scores will not be part of a teacher's "final evaluation." Rather, she says, poor scores will be used as a "trigger" for further evaluation. Beginning in the 2011–12 school year, teachers will receive a "student growth score" based on a two-year average of at least two tests taken by kids in their classrooms. An educator who receives a low score in September will immediately be subject to additional oversight, including principal observations and progress meetings. It could also ultimately result in teachers being put on probation, according to district documents. Teachers will also be assessed by conventional means—namely, the judgments and observations of their principals. That is what Addae refers to as the official "evaluation."

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