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Student Test

Imagine that you are a doctor and your evaluation is based on patients you didn’t have. Or a car dealer, and you are assessed by how many cars your colleagues — not you — sell. It sounds preposterous, right? Well, that’s just what is happening to public school teachers.

In this school reform era in which high-stakes standardized testing is the chief assessment metric, some teachers are being evaluated in some part on how well their students do on new exams. Other teachers are being assessed on how well students they don’t teach do on exams, as well as on test scores from subjects they don’t teach.

For example, an art teacher in New York City explained in this post how he was evaluated on math standardized test scores, and saw his evaluation rating drop from “effective” to “developing.” High-stakes tests are only given in math and English language arts, so reformers have decided that all teachers (and sometimes principals) in a school should be evaluated by reading and math scores.

Sometimes, school test averages are factored into all teachers’ evaluations. Sometimes, a certain group of teachers are attached to either reading or math scores; social studies teachers, for example are more often attached to English Language Arts scores while science teachers are attached to math scores. (A love of test scores led Washington, D.C., school reformers under former chancellor Michelle Rhee to evaluate every adult in every public school building — custodians and lunchroom workers included — in part on the school’s average test scores, a practice stopped a few years ago.)

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