Standardized Tests and Teacher Accountability - The Research

Noted researchers and statisticians discussed this controversial topic at a symposium on Jan. 19, 2011, hosted by the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, and sponsored by NJ Spotlight and 12 education stakeholders.

Here are video highlights of symposium keynoters and panelists, and as well as links to the major works of each presenter on the use of student test scores in teacher retention, tenure, and pay decisions.

Richard Rothstein “An Overemphasis on Teachers,” Richard Rothstein, research associate, Economic Policy Institute -- Rothstein, a former New York Times national education columnist, discusses the false narrative about public education—especially urban schools—that currently exists. Rothstein maintains that many education reform proposals, especially those that focus on teacher accountability, are based on a misinterpretation and misuse of data. He stresses the direct correlation between poverty and educational failure. Read Rothstein’s essay, “An overemphasis on teachers.” Video icon View video
Howard Wainer Panel Moderator Howard Wainer, distinguished research scientist, National Board of Medical Examiners -- Dr. Wainer reviews the basic purposes of standardized testing, provides an overview of the problems associated with VAM, and discusses the importance of conducting valid studies of VAM before implementing it in New Jersey. Video icon View video
Henry Braun Panelist Henry Braun, Boisi professor of education and public policy, Boston College
Dr. Braun explains that while different value-added models attempt to level the playing field, various technical and methodological problems exist when used to evaluate teachers. However, VAM can be used to improve education at broader levels (curricula, standards, schools, etc.). Read Braun’s report, “Using Student Progress to Evaluate Teachers: A Primer on Value-Added Models.” 
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Sean Corcoran Panelist Sean P. Corcoran, assistant professor, New York University, Steinhardt School of Education -- Dr. Corcoran, an economist, speaks to VAM’s methodological concerns that can’t be corrected, why VAM doesn’t allow evaluators to differentiate among teachers, and how policymakers should consider VAM when making spending decisions. Read Corcoran’s policy paper, “Can Teachers be Evaluated by their Students’ Test Scores?” Video icon View video
Arthur Wise Panelist Arthur E. Wise, president emeritus, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education -- Dr. Wise addresses teacher qualifications, the shortcomings of the current system of teacher evaluation, the promising models of teacher evaluation that have improved outcomes, and why VAM might retard educational progress in the U.S. Video icon View video
Laura Goe “Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness: Where Do We Go From Here?” Laura Goe, research scientist, Performance Research Group, Educational Testing Service -- The ultimate goal of educator evaluation should be to improve teaching and learning, says Dr. Goe, who identifies those measures that do help teachers improve their practices. Read Goe, et. al’s “A Practical Guide to Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness.”  Video icon View video