Sunday, October 24, 2010


Parade Magazine this week features an interview with Bill Gates about education reform. Needless to say he offers a lot of condemnation of teachers - notably lacking any sense of student accountability or consideration of decreased student motivation in the stagnation of "test scores."

Parade also features a poll question: "Should teachers be judged on their students' test scores?"

Obviously, teachers shouldn't be absolved of any responsibility. Yet, most discussions of this idea outside of people in education ignore the responsibility of the students, parents, and communities.

In some test formats, such as AP and IB, it is certainly reasonable to consider teacher performance. The key is that the test must have buy-in and accountability for the students, as well as the teachers. That is often the key for charter school success as well. If the student has some incentive, or more importantly, something to lose, the test will certainly have greater validity.


Paul Swendson said...

This is what makes teaching so difficult. You are working with people who do not necessarily want to learn anything. It is an inherently cooperative exercise, but teachers, who are often viewed as negative authority figures, tend to take the blame for failure.

mmazenko said...

I'm always troubled by my feelings for both sides of this issue. For one, no student is going to start learning until he makes the decision to do so. But at the same time, it's not enough to tell children it's their right to fail if they want to. There has to be some middle ground.