We’re Not Even Waiting for Teachers to Enter the Classroom Before Assessing Them

This is absolutely surreal (boldface mine):

A Chicago based company, TeacherMatch, claims to use algorithms to predict the effect that a teacher candidate will have on value added student test scores….

The creators of TeacherMatch have boiled down a teacher’s value to four distinct categories: where the candidate went to college, a candidate’s drive or ability to work through challenges, content knowledge, and teaching skills.

Having attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison, a top school in Teacher Education, I feel fairly confident that I’d score okay in this first category. However, most of my tips and tricks as a teacher were picked up from actual classrooms, working with real students in diverse settings or were picked up from my mentor teachers along the way. The University did get me ready for this challenge, but it wasn’t the end of my journey. My grade point average as an undergraduate was 3.84 and as a graduate student my 4.0 remains intact, but in no way do these numbers indicate my own level of perseverance in obtaining a bachelor’s and a master’s degree as a single parent against incredible odds. Nowhere in these numbers is it obvious that I was once labeled an “at risk” student myself, which is the strongest motivator imaginable. As for testing teacher skills, the best indicator of my effectiveness as a teacher can be found by watching me in a classroom. That is where I shine, no matter what shows up on paper.

Of course, this is ‘meta-stupid’, as these estimations are being used to determine which teachers will have high value-added test scores:

Last week, I was called over to a student’s computer while administering the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test. He was doing a reading test, so I was surprised that this talented reader was stuck on a question so early on in his test. I soon found out what was causing the looks of frustration. In order to answer the question, he had to know what was meant by the “Touch of Midas.” This information could not be found in the passage he was being tested on; it wasn’t even hinted at. This was simply a piece of background knowledge the test assumed when asking questions. Of course, I could only encourage the student and remind him to “read carefully,” but it was disheartening, knowing that the answer was not actually there. Am I a less effective teacher, because I hadn’t told my students the story of King Midas? Where exactly can you find King Midas in the Common Core State Standards?

At this point, I can’t even imagine why anyone would want to become a teacher. This is no way to treat adults-or their students.

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One Response to We’re Not Even Waiting for Teachers to Enter the Classroom Before Assessing Them

  1. sglover says:

    The comment section of your link includes a remark from the TeacherMatch honcho, in which he purports to show how awful current teacher selection is. Maybe it is awful, maybe it isn’t; given the range of school systems in the country, uniform it ain’t. But what’s really striking about the comment is how nebulous and muddled it is — from a guy who claims that his business offers extraordinary powers of discrimination and precision.

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