Students know what they’re measured by. Doing poorly on the math exam could be devastating, getting an A in that AP class is going to boost that GPA, better study for the SAT or else that UNC application is going to be a waste of money.
For teachers, it isn’t really cut-and-dry as to how to place value on them…how to measure them.
Does the teacher control if a student sleeps through class? What if a student decides to skip half of the days of the class? Should a teacher be penalized for something out of their control?
To determine the value of a teacher, one must figure out what the goals are for the public school system. As a whole, is the system geared to give an education on a wide array of topics, allowing the student to have a wide knowledge-base? Is its purpose to develop students into working members of American society? Is school preparing students for the future and the many challenges that they can face?
After answering what the purpose is, the next step would be to define what each individual teacher’s role is reaching the purpose. One method of doing this is known as longitudinal analysis, which will look at the effect a teacher has on their students in the long term. While the flaws in this method are plenty (there are a lot of other factors that are not accounted for), it may help to give a glimpse at the lasting impact of a certain teacher.
The program North Carolina uses in anl attempt to properly value each teacher is known as the Education Added-Value Assessment System (EVAAS). It uses results from standardized tests to produce value that a teacher has added to each student, and it has helped many schools to improve their ratings.
One example is in Guilford County, NC. The county uses EVAAS to evaluate teachers before hiring them and has near-100% passing rates in their schools. Systems such as EVAAS are still in their infancy, and as they continue to improve and be tested in real-life situations, EVAAS will only become more useful.
The inherent problem with EVAAS, and this is also a general question about schools, is that one cannot say for certain if these tests are true measures of value. Even if it looks like teachers are effecting these tests in a certain way, if the tests are not looking for the right things then EVAAS is a bunch of noise and nothing else.
Despite the fact that EVAAS has made all of these positive strides, the original question has to be revisited: Does it measure the right things? Based on the new Common Core exams that have become standardized, a student will be judged in the EVAAS system using their scores on these exams. Despite the effectiveness of EVAAS in evaluating a teacher’s impact on the scores of students on Common Core exams, does the system measure the value of a teacher correctly?
In order to find out, the definition of value for teachers is going to have to be figured. After that the best way to measure said value will be the next key step in the process.
For students, the goal is clear.
Teachers? Not so much.