DURHAM, N.C. — Two Duke University education experts have serious concerns about the Obama administration’s proposal to link teacher evaluations to student tests scores as a criterion for how much federal stimulus money states will receive for K-12 education.
Friday (Aug. 28) is the deadline to submit public comments on the proposal that will disperse more than $4 billion in grants. The U.S. Department of Education has said it will issue its final rules sometime after the deadline.
Helen F. Ladd, the Edgar Thompson Professor of Public Policy at Duke, says that while student test scores play a role in the overall effort to improve schools, the proposed regulations “give them a pride of place that will lead to little good and is likely to do much harm.”
“The main problem with the heavy focus of the proposed test-based approach is that it ratchets up the pernicious narrow test-based approach to education represented by No Child Left Behind,” Ladd says in comments she has submitted on the proposal.
“The approach is narrow in part because the requirement that all students be tested every year means that students can be tested in only a limited number of subjects. The result is a heavy emphasis on the basic skills of math and reading, to the detriment of other skills and orientations that young people need to become effective participants in the global society.
“Further, the emphasis on test results for individual teachers will exacerbate the well-documented incentives for teachers to focus on narrow test-taking skills and drilling. It is time to move beyond this misplaced emphasis on test scores in a few subjects to return to the broader goals of education that have been such an important part of our history.”