“What do we really know about high stakes testing? “There are several misconceptions that have led to the misguided policies that are having disastrous effects on public schools. Taken from a document that cites the work of researchers who are determined to help us come to a common understanding, these misconceptions have been categorized into 5 areas. APPR is the new evaluation system that relies on test data to rate “teacher’s effectiveness”. We’ll start with Misconception #3: Testing is the best way to ensure that teachers are teaching well.
From: New York State Principals: New York State’s High Schools, Middle Schools and Elementary Schools
“An Open Letter of Concern Regarding New York State’s APPR Legislation for the Evaluation of Teachers and Principals”
a) Value-added models (VAM) of teacher effectiveness do not produce stable ratings of teachers. For example, different statistical models (all based on reasonable assumptions) yield different effectiveness scores.
b) There is no evidence that evaluation systems that incorporate student test scores produce gains in student achievement. In order to determine if there is a relationship, researchers recommend small-scale pilot testing of such systems. Researchers have found that how a teacher is rated changes from class to class, from year to year, and even from test to test. Student test scores have not been found to be a strong predictor of the quality of teaching as measured by other instruments or approaches
c) The Regents examinations and Grades 3-8 Assessments are designed to evaluate student learning, not teacher effectiveness, nor student learning growth. Using them to measure the latter is akin to using a meter stick to weigh a person: you might be able to develop a formula that links height and weight, but there will be plenty of error in your calculations.”
In reality, there are negative consequences to a teacher evaluation system based on test scores:
Students will be adversely affected by New York State’s APPR
“When a teacher’s livelihood is directly impacted by his or her students’ scores on an end-of-year examination, test scores take front and center. The nurturing relationship between teacher and student changes for the worse.
a) With a focus on the end of year testing, there inevitably will be a narrowing of the curriculum as teachers focus more on test preparation and skill and drill teaching. Enrichment activities in the arts, music, civics and other non-tested areas will diminish.
b) Schools will have an incentive to place struggling students in lower-level classes without standardized assessments. School systems may hesitate placing students in Regents classes beyond the basic five needed for graduation so that their performance on Advanced Regents examinations will not negatively impact evaluations. If schools use Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) scores, as suggested by Commissioner King, schools might be more reluctant to challenge students upward for fear that poor test performance might result in teachers being unfairly penalized.
c) Teachers will subtly but surely be incentivized to avoid students with health issues, students with disabilities, English Language Learners or students suffering from emotional issues. Research has shown that no model yet developed can adequately account for all of these ongoing factors.
d) The dynamic between students and teacher will change. Instead of “teacher and student versus the exam,” it will be “teacher versus students’ performance” on the exam.
e) Collaboration among teachers will be replaced by competition. With a “value added” system, a 5th grade teacher has little incentive to make sure that her incoming students score well on the 4th grade exams, for incoming students with high scores would make her job more challenging. When competition replaces collaboration, every student loses.”
New York Principals: APPR Position Paper , prepared by Sean Feeney and Carol Burris, signed by 1539 NYS principals.