There are many teachers and school personnel that tell you that not all schools and students are numbers crunched by data and are treated like cookies coming from the oven. Teachers in the same building have gifted, special needs and certainly diverse learners in their room. One teacher may specialize in problem students and another may excel with a different type of student. The story below shows one teachers story with the test score process and gives a few thoughts to consider.standardized test scores to measure teacher effectiveness. So, I was shocked the other day when an educator, one I think highly of, used test scores to compare two teachers’ effectiveness.
All of teacher A’s students passed the standardized test. Teacher B’s students didn’t fair as well, but teacher B’s classes were filled with special education students, rule breakers and fence-riders (those students who are easily swayed by their peers).
As a teacher, I loved teaching the most challenging students, so I was taken aback by this educator’s dubious claim. If he were to look at my standardized test scores, would he think any less of me as a teacher?
When you teach challenging students, the state-mandated curriculum must not be ignored, but often it should take a back seat to the unwritten curriculum. Comparatively, the standard curriculum is easy to teach. If test scores were my primary concern, when a student misbehaved, I could have simply stated, “John, do the work or get a referral.” I then could return to teaching the mandated curriculum. In that scenario, my students’ test scores may have been higher.
In addition to curriculum, though, we need to teach life skills, to build trusting relationships with all students and to help students learn from their errors (both academic and behavioral).
Teaching the unwritten curriculum includes no absolutes. Every decision is complex and impacts heavily on all learners. Instead of focusing solely on test scores, educators must also teach with empathy and work diligently to never leave a student behind.
Test scores cannot measure these attributes. Teacher effectiveness can only be marginally reflected in the scores of our students.
So, when evaluating my worthiness as a teacher, please, measure me by the unwritten curriculum, not my test scores.
Reed is a longtime educator and coach, who is passionate about progressive learning and 21st-century assessment practices. Read more of his work here. "I'm a co-moderator of #VAchat, a Twitter conversation for Virginia (and non-Virginian) educators that meets Monday's at 8 ET. Most importantly, I'm a husband and father of four wonderful children and a grandchild. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, reading, sports and, of course, spending time with family."