"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, November 17, 2008

Top 10 Reasons Why Teaching Jobs Based on Test Scores Is A Bad Idea

It was just a few months ago that Randi Weingarten earned the blessing of Bloomberg for her AFT Presidential bid by endorsing the Bloomberg/Klein/Business Roundtable bonus pay plan for NYC teachers based on test scores. Weingarten patted herself on the back at the time for negotiating the stipulation that bonuses would go to schools rather than individuals. Increased productivity (higher test scores) would be judged on a schoolwide basis, thus assuring Weingarten, at least, that individual teachers would not be evaluated based on test scores. And Bloomberg's lawyers did the ropeadope all the way to the signing table.

That capitulation by Ms. Randi signaled the beginning for a feeding frenzy by the BR and Chamber of Commerce, so that just a few months later, we are faced with the BR's leading media stooge, Jay Mathews, now, today, greasing the slippery slope toward the teachers-on-production model by extending the argument of bonus pay for higher test scores into the dystopian ideal of keeping your teaching job based on higher test scores:
People who have studied the public schools that have significantly raised the achievement levels of impoverished students tend to accept the idea that teachers' salaries and jobs must eventually be tied to classroom results. "Of course," said Andrew Rotherham, an education think tank founder, blogger and Virginia Board of Education member who, at 37, is likely to be a major player on this issue for years to come.
Notice the luridly-misleading style of propaganda. Which "people who have studied" is Mathews referring to, and in which journals are their "tendencies" reported? To say nothing of the sloppy writing. "Of course," what, EduWink? What we can know is that Mathews is as full of digested corn as the Thanksgiving turkey he is planning to eat next week.

Yes, the Jays and Andys and Congressman Millers of the edu-world want to make sure that the teachers who are working in these poverty-blighted schools are earning the big money they are being paid. Just like in the private schools where their children and grandchildren are educated, yes? Here are a few reasons, guys, why this is a bad idea:

10. Teaching jobs based on test scores will hasten the flight of the remaining good teachers from the poorest schools where the best teachers are already in the shortest supply.

9. Teaching jobs based on test scores will attract only the most desperate teachers to the poorest schools.

8. Teaching jobs based on test scores will contribute to cutthroat competition among teachers for positions most likely to produce the best test results.

7. Teaching jobs based on test scores will decimate teamwork and collaboration among teachers.

6. Teaching jobs based on test scores will push the curriculum into a smaller and smaller box based only on what is tested.

5. Teaching jobs based on test scores will further poison the educational climate in schools that is now almost unbreathable.

4. Teaching jobs based on test scores will exacerbate the cheating and corruption associated with high stakes policy implementation.

3. Teaching jobs based on test scores will damage learning for knowledge, skills, and understanding by placing further emphasis only on memorization and short-term learning gains that can be demonstrated with paper and pencil tests.

2. Teaching jobs based on test scores will extend the view of children as raw material to be exploited for their monetary worth.

1. Teaching jobs based on test scores will encourage the marginalization and discarding of the raw material that can't be exploited.


  1. Anonymous6:14 PM

    Merit pay for teachers in D.C. gets the backing of liberal Leonard Pitts Jr.

    Even worse, cash rewards for students who meet certain benchmarks. You know, learn for cash, like employee on straight commission. Pitts reasoning; the unions should step out of the way and give it a try. Of course by that time, it's too late for those students exposed to the capitalist theory, and the merit/cash reward door is open forever.

    Are we losing our minds...?


  2. Anonymous6:27 PM

    Partof the problem is that way way too many TEACHERS (especially the new/young ones), are
    ENABLING these stupid reforms from within their schools!

    They are so clueless about what education really is and entails, that they buy a huge set of MYTHS,
    and substitute that for reality.

    Let it be in the record for all time, that Public Education is being destroyed from WITHIN by school personnell, as well as from WITHOUT, by business-backed "reformers", politicians, and charter school crooks.