“This is fight for the soul of public education,” says Brandon Johnson, an organizer with the Chicago Teachers Union.
One of the focal points of the Chicago Teachers Strike that began Monday is Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s demand to have teacher evaluations and pay based on students scores on standardized tests. In corporate ed. reform this is known as the “value-added” model, and it’s being pushed across the country.
Without falling into the “good teacher/bad teacher” trap or debating the need for effective teacher evaluation, I think it’s important that we ask ourselves what we actually know about standardized tests before pegging their results to the pay of millions of people. Here are some starting questions.
- Who actually writes standardized tests?
- Do the tests encompass the full range of content and skills teachers should be imparting/encouraging in students?
- Who scores standardized tests? (And how often are the scores wrong?)
- Who is profiting off test creation/delivery and all of the remediation programs schools buy to improve student scores?
- What forces outside schools stand to benefit from linking teacher pay to student test scores?
If, as I suspect is the case, most Americans don’t know the answers to these questions, we ought to start thinking a little more critically before making employments decisions based on these tests.
And finally…GO CTU!
This is a much more important fight than any sports match.