Judging teachers by student test scores-A A +A
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
By Tess B. Macasinag
THERE is now a push by the government to empirically measure outcomes in education. And accordingly, the most important and valid measure of students’ performance, and consequently teachers’, is the National Achievement Test.
As teachers, we want to know if we are doing a good job. We want to know our strengths and our weaknesses. We welcome accountability. But with all due respect, I do not agree to the government’s emphasis on standardized test scores to measure teachers’ performance because it may produce an unhealthy focus and it has downsides as well.
For one, when performance or grade matters it becomes the goal of the student, the teacher, and the system subsequently leading to dominant practices like maybe testing to the test that is, concentrate on teaching their students to pass the tests rather than teaching the subject. This can be because the pressure on students, teachers, principals, and school superintendents to raise scores on a high-stake test can be tremendous, and the temptation to tailor and restrict instruction to only that which will be tested can be almost irresistible.
The current emphasis on standardized test implicitly encourages educators to reallocate classroom time, because it requires testing in only reading, math and science. Teachers who are worried about their schools’ performance may have to cut back on art, music, and history classes while devoting more time to reading, math, and science. The pressure forces teachers to limit curriculum to a set range of knowledge or skills in order to increase student performance on the mandated test.
Students do not only need academic knowledge, but also creativity, morality, aesthetic, and life skills in order to prepare for future success. A standardized test does not meet students’ real needs or help with their prospective lives.
Education should be based on the mastery of real subjects and not just on exam achievement. It matters a lot how effectively students are learning. Getting so wind up with result lead students to be more concerned about meeting the expectation than engaging in the activity that produces that result. The more we are thinking about being on top above others in terms of performance, the less well the students actually perform--to say nothing of how their enthusiasm for learning is apt to wane.
I would hope that concerned people would wish for unbiased research on what constitutes good teaching, and I expect the results would be what we learned in the past, and need to relearn again, separate from commerce, that good teaching nurtures and builds. For one without the other is pointless.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 19, 2013.