Wednesday, November 04, 2009

How to Gauge Teachers: Correlation

Standardized tests are one of the worst things to ever happen to the Western world. Inhumane, uncreative, and stressful, they force teachers to teach to a test instead of creatively envisioning and practicing new teaching techniques. They fail to analyze the thought process of the student and reward rote memorization.

They aren't going away either. It's the only technique anyone has come up with to measure the performance of students effectively and cheaply. Non-multiple choice tests are expensive and slow to grade.

Action has to be taken to ensure that schools are improving. One of the central proposals to do this is to get rid of teachers whose students fail standardized tests.

Such a proposal isn't fair to teachers. What if their students just don't give a shit? Teaching is easier than inspiring. They're both difficult, but a student who doesn't give a damn is destined to fail no matter how good a teacher is.

Instead of firing teachers whose students fail, why not fire teachers whose students' grades do not correspond to their standardized test grades? Grades are an indicator of student performance provided by a teacher. Standardized tests should verify this indicator. If the indicator is off, then a teacher is too harsh, forgiving, or ineffective.

This system verifies that a teacher is teaching in the way that the state requests. After all, this ought to be the goal of a standardized test. State-mandated standards are at heart horseshit, but a world without them is a pipe dream.

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