Mercedes Schneider discusses a study that was reported in Education Week. The study concluded that teachers from alternative certification programs such as Teach for America get students to produce test scores there are “marginally” better than traditionally trained teachers.

Mercedes thought this was a dumb study, although she didn’t use that word. Producing higher scores, even “marginally” higher scores is not a good measure of teaching. Getting higher scores from students is not, she writes, the same as proving a high-quality, well-rounded education.

“The fact that the JCFS meta-analysis finds that teachers trained via alt cert programs have students with slightly higher test scores than those trained in traditional teacher prep programs does not surprise me.

“What does surprise me is that the JCFS researchers not only fail to question the validity of measuring teacher job performance using student tests; they promote the idea as a means to gather useful data.

“It also surprises me that the JCFS researchers do not question the degree to which student test scores represent authentic learning. They do comment on “student achievement in the U.S.” as “still below average, in comparison to the rest of the world,” but they do not carry that thought further and question how it is that the US continues to be a major world power despite those “still below average” international test scores….

“There is a reason that no national testing company would dare include with its student achievement tests a statement supporting the usage of these tests to gauge teacher effectiveness: Measuring teachers using student tests is not a valid use of such tests, and no testing company wants to be held liable for this invalid practice.

“Certainly the pressure is on traditional teacher training programs to focus on the outcome of teachers-in-training “raising” student test scores and to use those test score outcomes as purported evidence that the teacher-in-training is “effective.” May they never reach the ultimate cheapening of pedagogy and reduce teacher education to nothing more that test-score-raising.

“Are teacher alt cert programs little more that spindly, test-score-raising drive-thrus lacking in lasting pedagogical substance? There’s an issue worthy of research investigation.

“What price will America pay for its shortsighted, shallow love of high test scores? Also worthy of investigation– more so than that of the ever-increasing test score.”