Screenshot taken from Rate My Teachers, a website where students can trade information about their teachers. February 24, 2012.
Last week, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that teachers’ individual performance assessments could legally be made public. In response to the ruling, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates contributed an op-ed article to the New York Times criticizing the practice of publicizing teacher ratings.
Gates explains that school administrators are under pressure to weed out ineffective teachers and many districts, such as those in New York and Los Angeles, do so by publicly ranking teachers according to their “value-added rating,” which measures educators’ impact on students test scores. Critics of these types of assessments, such as Gates, argue that they encourage “teaching to the test” and do not promote a well-rounded education for students because the evaluation is only based on one type of measurement, students’ test scores.
Can teachers be publicly shamed into becoming better educators or is this kind of policy, as Gates calls it, “a big mistake”? What alternative methods are there for measuring teachers’ effectiveness?
Jodi Ruderon, education editor, The New York Times
Diane Ravitch, is a research professor at New York University and an education policy analyst; she was U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education under both President George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton
David Lauter, currently Los Angeles Times Washington DC bureau chief; he oversaw the “Grading the Teachers” project as California/Metro editor