Trusting Our Judgment: Measurement and Accountability for Educational Outcomes
by David Steiner - 2013
Background/Context: Education policymakers across the country face an urgent problem: we know there is wide disparity in teacher effectiveness, but we lack meaningful tools to identify and reward the most effective teachers or to ensure that the least effective improve or leave the classroom.
Purpose: This article considers the value of the national move toward value-added measures and our current fascination with objective measurements – a fascination that stems from our collective distrust of our teachers and ourselves, and our reluctance to make judgments about the substantive narratives we teach students.
Research Design: This is an analytical and reflective piece that draws upon the author’s experience serving as New York State Commissioner of Education and dean of a teacher education institution in New York City.
Conclusions: Value-added measures of teachers’ impact on student learning are an imperfect but important tool; however, by often refusing to take responsibility for what is worth teaching, we risk cutting off important opportunities for democratic education and ultimately impoverishing students’ own ability to make meaningful judgments about their world, regardless of their test scores.
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