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Teacher Evaluation

The Charge and the Challenges


Kate O'Hara

The evaluation of teachers is at the forefront of national discussion, with the divide on the topic growing increasingly deeper. Teachers are under attack, in a war waged from the top down, complete with private entities, standardization, and a limited view of what it means to be «good» or «effective». In both teacher preparation programs and in our public schools, teachers entering the profession and practicing in classrooms face evaluation measures that are biased, unreliable, and reliant upon quantitative outcomes. Teacher Evaluation: The Charge and the Challenges aims to «talk back» to the national rhetoric about teacher evaluation and accountability measures, with a call for all educators, policy makers, activists, scholars, and reformers to engage in critical dialogue and democratic practices.
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Chapter 3. Measurement as Politics by Other Means: the Case of Test-Based Teacher Evaluation


Since the Obama administration initiated its Race to the Top competitive grant programs, many states across the country have instituted new legal and policy frameworks for the evaluation of public school teachers and principals to receive Race to the Top funds (Baker, Oluwole, & Green, 2013). While these value-added and similar methods of evaluation and compensation have been tried long before the Race to the Top era (Garrison, 2011; Gratz, 2009; Kupermintz, 2003; Podgursky & Springer, 2007), the Race to the Top competitions have proved decisive in spurring their adoption by states (Learing Point Associates, 2010).

There is now a growing body of literature effectively critiquing the validity and reliability of using student standardized test scores for the evaluation of teachers and principals (Baker et al., 2010; Baker et al., 2013), and while this literature often points to the negative consequences of these policies, there is a need for a broader examination of the political, social, and philosophical implications of this policy move led by state and federal officials and the army of so-called school reformers that has grown from the ranks of large for-profit corporations, private think tanks, and venture philanthropies (Saltman, 2010). ← 39 | 40 →

This chapter presents the argument that current test-based teacher evaluations and compensation schemes (TBTECs) rest on the fundamentally flawed and arbitrary practice of the operational theory of measurement (or operationism) and that this critique enables a deeper political, social, and philosophical analysis of TBTEC regimes, using New York State as...

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