Putting Education Reform To The Test

After Further Review, UMass Education Students Object To New Evaluation

AndyRobertsPhotos / Flickr

Teacher candidates at the University of Massachusetts are objecting to a video-based evaluation program.

Teachers-in-training at the University of Massachusetts are leading a protest against a pilot national teacher evaluation program being developed by testing giant Pearson and Stanford University, the New York Times reports.

The students and their instructor are worried that turning over two 10-minute videos and a 40-page test to a faceless evaluator will not produce a useful assessment.

Nearly all of the 68 middle and high school teaching candidates have declined to participate.

From the story:

“This is something complex and we don’t like seeing it taken out of human hands,” said Barbara Madeloni, who runs the university’s high school teacher training program. “We are putting a stick in the gears.”

Lily Waites, 25, who is getting a master’s degree to teach biology, found that the process of reducing 270 minutes of recorded classroom teaching to 20 minutes of video was demeaning and frustrating, made worse because she had never edited video before. “I don’t think it showed in any way who I am as a teacher,” she said. “It felt so stilted.”

Pearson advertises that it is paying scorers $75 per assessment, with work “available seven days a week” for current or retired licensed teachers or administrators. This makes Amy Lanham wonder how thorough the grading will be. “I don’t think you can have a genuine reflective process from a calibrated scorer,” said Ms. Lanham, 28, who plans to teach English.

Six states have agreed to use the new evaluation system. Next year, teaching candidates in Washington state will have to pass the assessment to earn their license.

Florida is implementing a teacher evaluation which uses a statistical model to determine what effect a teacher had on a student’s learning.

Pearson has a hand in Florida teacher evaluations, because those scores are based in part on a student’s performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Pearson has the contract to design and grade the test.

The Massachusetts education students are also raising privacy concerns about students who might appear in the videos. Parents might not have the opportunity to consent.

Pearson says the videos are kept for two years in case of a legal challenge, but that there are no privacy issues.


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