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Editorial: Doubts about teacher evaluations and test scores

LA School Report | May 14, 2014



Los Angeles Times logoVia The Los Angeles Times | By the Editorial Board

A new study out of USC and the University of Pennsylvania finds that value-added measurements — a way of using student test scores to evaluate teacher performance — aren’t a very good way of judging teacher quality. This isn’t the first study to cast doubt on what has become a linchpin educational policy of the Obama administration but there’s an interesting element that lends its findings extra weight: It was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a well-known supporter of using test scores in teacher evaluations.

In fact, researcher Morgan S. Polikoff, an assistant professor of education at USC, said the findings ran counter to what he had expected. Yet he was unflinching in his conclusion in a YouTube video on the research: “Value-added scores don’t seem to be measuring the quality and content of the work that students are doing in the classroom.”

This shouldn’t put the kibosh on all use of value-added, which many states have adopted (California has not). Evidence continues to build on both sides of the issue, and many studies have found that increases in test scores, though they might not correlate with teacher quality, do have important ramifications for student success down the road.

Read the full editorial here.

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