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August 03, 2011



I completely agree that high-stakes multiple-choice exams are a poor way to evaluate teachers, but I'm skeptical of the possibility of creating student assessments that do provide a means of effectively evaluating teachers. Even with immense resource investment, portfolio and performance assessments cannot be graded in a consistent, reliable manner; even essays and other open response questions present major grading challenges.

We need to rethink how we evaluate teachers altogether. Looking at student outcomes is the obvious solution, but student outcomes are simply too difficult to measure effectively. We'll actually get much better and more nuanced information through an observation system. That presents standardization problems as well, of course, but I think they're easier to overcome than the challenges facing student assessments. The Times reported recently on a teacher evaluation program in Montgomery County, Maryland that looks very promising and does not give test scores any weight at all.


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