Every classroom and school needs a qualified professional teacher. School systems recruit, prepare, and retain instructors who are best prepared for their jobs (Banks and Banks 11). However, the education system in the US has numerous equity and social justice concerns. Teacher evaluation is a critical process meant to address these concerns. It is a component that many believe is designed to improve the quality of education in the US. But in practice, systematic evaluation of teachers has been a problem.
Policymakers and officials in the education sector have proposed that student test scores in mathematics and reading should be the largest component of teacher evaluation. This means that the scores students get in their standardized tests should also be used in evaluating the competence of teachers. This paper seeks to determine how fair and just it is to base a significant proportion of teacher evaluation on student test scores.
The performance of the teacher may not necessarily be the ultimate cause of the poor performance exhibited by the students in the standardized tests. Despite going through an entire learning process, student’s test scores may not reach the desired level (Harris, Smith, and Harris 47). This is a good reason to consider changing the current system of teacher evaluation. It is also a good reason to dismiss teachers for their contribution to the poor performance of students. The law can suggest that teachers be dismissed if the test scores of their students do not reach the minimum level (Harris, Smith and Harris 47).
But there is little evidence to suggest that the teachers who will replace those terminated will be more effective in improving the performance of students. There is also no evidence to suggest that the teachers who are terminated are actually the poorest in their jobs (Newman 25). Another concern is whether teachers will be motivated to perform based on the results of their student’s test scores or on money and employment terms (Ball and Youdell).
Student test scores are good at providing some information used to judge the performance and effectiveness of teachers in providing instruction and in the delivery of information (Harris, Smith and Harris 52). However, they cannot entirely be used as measures of performance. They should be a part of the whole evaluation criteria for teachers’ performance. But the extent to which they should be used forms the basis of this debate.
Elements, circumstances, policies, and practices that impact student test scores
Many things are involved in the learning process. Education is considered both a complex and cumulative process (Harris, Smith, and Harris 60). In other words, there are numerous factors that influence learning. For example, the conditions at school, the environment outside the school, and the experiences at home have apparent impacts on learning. Apart from these factors, the community, summer programs, the internet, and peers are among other factors identified to influence learning. All these factors play out in the overall output of a student’s standardized test scores (Banks 67).
For example, students that use the internet for the purpose of studying are more likely to perform better than those that watch porn on the internet. Similarly, friends may influence a student not to read because the tests are always simple. Eventually, the student will end up failing the tests. Therefore, the overall achievement of a student cannot be solely attributed to one factor, the teacher, but to a combination of all these factors, including the role that teachers play in influencing learning.
Throughout their education process, students also pass through a number of teachers. Teachers that taught them in previous classes have as much influence on the outcome of the scores as the current teachers (Newman 46). The learning experiences in earlier grades have a lasting effect on student’s learning in their later grade levels. Similarly, whatever a student learns from his or her English teacher influences what they learn in history or any other subject taught in English, where students are required to write essays. The case is the same for mathematics because it greatly influences students’ performance in other subjects that require numerical skills.
The classroom and school conditions vary and are not similar in all schools (Newman 43). Some classrooms have a student to teacher ratio that is unmanageable while others have a manageable student to teacher ratio. In addition, some schools have professional counselors tasked to address issues of delinquency and undesired behaviors among students while other schools do not have such services (Newman 23). It is also apparent that some schools have more resources and are better equipped than others.
At home, there is also a variation in resources, which significantly influences students’ learning. Some parents are able to pay for private tutoring and homework help for their children. In contrast, some cannot afford the services while others do not see the need for such services. All these are factors that influence test scores and therefore have to be considered in determining the fairness of using students’ test scores to evaluate teachers’ performances.
Inequality in the education system
According to Schwalbe (23), American faces a massive social inequality problem. This problem cuts across various sectors of society, including the education sector. There are inequalities in the number of learning opportunities, content, skills, and abilities. Most administrators and policymakers often leave out the most important thing, proper channeling of instructions to learners, in trying to address these inequalities (Schwalbe 23). A wide volume of literature has observed that inequality in the education system in America is deeply entrenched in the delivery of information (Ball and Youdell 14). This partly involves coverage of instructional content, especially in key subject areas such as mathematics and reading.
The inequality witnessed in the American education system plays a role in the poor performance of students, particularly of learners from families with little economic ability. The underprivileged learners are disadvantaged from accessing quality education and receiving the right instructional content to build their knowledge base and skills in line with the country’s economy (Newman 45). This is also a critical factor to consider when deciding whether student’s test scores should compose 50% of teacher evaluation or not.
Influence of members from different social groups
Newman is the book The Missing Class talks about the less privileged people living in America. He reiterates Schwalbe’s main point that there is extensive inequality in America’s social structures, including education (26). The challenges that underprivileged children and learners face should not be ignored when considering ruling that a significant part of teachers’ evaluation should be based on the outcome of students’ test scores (Newman 27).
Parents from the ‘missing class’ also throw a spoiler into this debate since they are more likely to fail to provide the ideal learning environment for their children. This will impact how they perform in their test scores. Quite a number of children from the ‘Missing Class’ do not normally perform well in school, thus affecting the overall performance of a class. These students are also impacted by their neighborhood and the places they live in because they are likely to interact with others in the same state.
Aristotle’s Influence on my Argument
According to Aristotle, every human being’s objective is to be happy. He went further to argue that happiness is always attained through developing people’s reasoning capacity and the ability to overcome their impulses and appetites (Moore & Bruder 266). This applies to my argument because if the students want to pass the tests, then they should use their reasoning abilities to know that they are supposed to use the internet as a way of preparing for the test.
They will also know that there is enough reason to shun their appetites for summer programs, peers, and the internet for the sake of passing the test. In addition, somebody whose reasoning capacity is fully developed knows that he/she does not need to depend on the teacher to pass the standardized test entirely. Therefore, Aristotle’s theory supports my vantage point that teachers are not entirely to blame for their students’ failure in standardized tests.
In conclusion, it would not be fair to evaluate a teacher’s performance based on just the students’ test scores. Multiple variables need to be taken in to account to make a fair and just evaluation of the teacher’s performance.
Ball, S. J. and D. Youdell. “Hidden privatisation in public education.” NUT Education Review (2009): 21(2), 73-83. Print.
Banks, J. A., & Banks, C. A. Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons., 2007. Print.
Harris, Phillip, Bruce M Smith, and Joan Harris. The Myths of Standardized Tests. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Pub., 2011. Print.
Moore, B. & Bruder, K. Philosophy the Power of Ideas. New York, NY: McGraw- Hill, 2011. Print.
Newman, Katherine S. The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America. Boston: Beacon Press, 2007. Print.
Schwalbe, Michael. Rigging the Game: How Inequality is Reproduced in Everyday Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.