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Chattering Classes Meet The Psychometric Qualities of Performance Pay

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Lead from the Start: Chattering Classes Meet The Psychometric Qualities of Performance Pay

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Chattering Classes Meet The Psychometric Qualities of Performance Pay

I just read an excellent post on Bridging Differences about using test scores for teacher evaluation. My favorite part was this...

"And then there is the fundamental problem, as all psychometricians warn us, that tests should be used for the purpose for which they were intended, and not for other purposes. In other words, a test of fifth grade reading tests whether students in the fifth grade are able to read material appropriate for children their age. It cannot then be used to determine whether their teacher was good or bad."
Testing validity depends on the test actually being used to measure what it was designed to assess.
I keep coming back to the idea that teachers don't go into education for the paycheck so why do, as Diane describes them, "the Chattering Classes" keep thinking that giving a mediocre teacher a couple extra bucks is going to make them a better teacher?

Tying student test scores to teacher pay is meant to increase teacher "performance" but what we are trying to do is increase student learning. If we had similar accountability to the banking industry we could still teach whatever wanted as long as we demonstrated the goal has been achieved ie "learning". But, we are more concerned about the test score than the learning that is meant to be demonstrated by the test. As an NBCT, I am totally for accountability and high levels of learning and teaching but until we develop a support structure for accomplished teaching from teacher prep to master teacher whatever we put in place will really evaluate how we support teachers not their effectiveness. Besides, there are plenty of economists who have studied how money is not an effective motivator in any profession and actually distracts from the goals of a profession. This approach focuses us on the gaming the system ala Enron and Bernie Madoff and not the goals the test scores are supposed to represent. Student Learning.

Maybe if the student test scores reflected actual learning instead of students ability to pass a test, teachers would be behind this type of reform. In the meantime, if we want to evaluate teaching lets start with evaluating their practice instead of how well their students can pass a test.

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