The Boston Globe seems to be the Rip van Winkle of the mainstream media. It recently published an editorial that insists that teachers should be evaluated by the test scores of their students. Really. Apparently it is still 2010 in the offices of the Globe, when Arne Duncan claimed that this was the very best way to determine which teachers were effective or ineffective.

 

But it is no longer 2010. The U.S. Departnent of Education handed out $5 billion to states to promote test-based evaluation. The Gates Foundation gave away hundreds of millions of dollars to states to use test scores to evaluate teachers. This method has had negative results everywhere. It has demoralized teachers everywhere. It has contributed to a growing national teacher shortage and declining enrollments in education programs.

 

Scholarly groups like the American Educational Research Association and the American Statistical Association have warned against using test scores to rate individual teachers. There are too many uncontrolled variables, as well as individual differences among students. The American Statistical Association said that teachers affect 1-14% of test score variation. Surely the Boston Globe editorial board must be aware of that report by an impeccable nonpartisan authoritative source. Surely the Boston Globe editorial board must know that teachers in affluent districts are likely to produce high test scores, while teachers of children with disabilities, English language learners, impoverished children, and homeless children are likely to get low test scores. Even teachers of the gifted will receive low ratings because their students get small test score gains since they are already at the top of the scale.

 

The Boston Globe editorial board should learn about the disastrous experience with Gates-style test-based evaluation in Hillsborough County, Florida. The district accepted a $100 million award from the Gates Foundation to rate its teachers by test score gains and losses. It was an abject failure. The district drained its reserve funds. It concluded that it would cost the district $52 million a year to sustain the Gates program. The superintendent who led the effort, MaryEllen Elia, was fired. Gates cut its ties to the county and stopped the payout after wasting $80 million.

 

Should Massachusetts cling to a costly, expensive, failed way to evaluate teachers? Should it ignore evidence and experience?

 

Common sense and logic say no. Will someone send this post to the editorial board of the Boston Globe?