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RE “Test data should be used in teacher evaluations”: Calls for balance and reason in education policy finally reached the ears of Massachusetts state legislators last month as the Senate voted against plans to rate teachers based on student test results.

Teachers want to be evaluated fairly, but researchers say using student scores to judge teachers is no more accurate than a coin toss. Across the country, educators are rated as great one year, awful the next. Meanwhile, teachers waste precious time administering exams, for the sole purpose of evaluating themselves.

Teachers want to focus on their students as human beings, not standardized exam scores. They have seen how high-stakes testing policies narrow and distort teaching and learning, as teachers are forced to teach to the test to protect themselves, their students, and their schools. Test-based teacher evaluation systems are driving the best educators away from students who need them most.

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The good news is that in Massachusetts and across the nation, thanks to a growing test resistance and reform movement, cries for real reforms are finally being heard. The tide is beginning to turn. The House needs to follow the lead of the Senate and bar the damaging use of student scores to evaluate teachers.

Monty Neill
Executive director
FairTest
Jamaica Plain