Too much reliance on test scores

-A A +A

There are many reasons to oppose the governor’s plan for teacher evaluation: The tests used are unreliable; the states where similar “reforms” have been implemented have not seen success; huge sums of money have been diverted from schools to publishing companies; curriculum narrows to only those things measured and measurable on a standardized test. The list is long. For teachers, one of the most devastating consequences of over-reliance on test scores is the impact on their relationship with their students.
Teaching and learning is a relationship.  At times the relationship is based on the teachers’ expertise in understanding how a student learns, what the student knows and what they need to do to master their next step in learning. At other times, the relationship is based on a teacher’s expertise in drawing the student into the curriculum and opening that window for students.  And always, the relationship is a human one, based on the trust and respect between teacher and student. With that relationship, students realize that they can learn and that there is a purpose to their learning.
Real reform builds and strengthens the relationship between teacher and student because real reform uses and deepens the knowledge, experience, and expertise of teachers. Real reform includes the resources needed for implementation.
Real reform takes into account the uniqueness of every student. It takes into account the link between poverty and learning and includes the social safety nets necessary in order for teachers to focus on learning needs of students, not the array of needs tied to poverty.
Real reform includes evaluation with meaningful feedback, collaboration and opportunity for professional growth. Basing evaluation, compensation, and even employment on a test score cannot do anything except undermine a strong and purposeful relationship for learning.
Ellen Mills is the president of the  Los Alamos Federation of School Employees.