Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Making a Connection between Student Achievement, Teacher Accountability, and Quality Classroom Instruction

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Making a Connection between Student Achievement, Teacher Accountability, and Quality Classroom Instruction

Article excerpt

The importance of standardized test results is becoming more prevalent in the structure of classroom instruction and the operation of schools throughout the nation due to pressure on educators and students from various levels of authority. This study looks at the relationship between classroom instruction and standardized test content and the effects this has on students, parents, and teachers. Seventeen fourth grade students, fourteen parents of fourth graders, and fifteen elementary teachers completed surveys. The study describes several positive and negative aspects to standardized tests, along with ideas of who is responsible for test performance. Standardized tests provide comparisons and are a tool for improvement. Too much emphasis is placed on high stakes test along with unrealistic expectations for some. The results indicate that ongoing assessment is effective for measuring student learning and teacher effectiveness.

Key Words: Standardized Testing, Accountability, and Student Achievement

Accountability, high-stakes, and student achievement are popular terms among educators. Students' performance on standardized achievement tests is used to a high extent in reflecting the quality of instruction students receive from teachers.

According to Vandevoort, Amrein-Beardsley, and Berliner (2004) the quality of a teacher in the classroom is the single most important factor in determining how well a child learns. Throughout the United States, schools are being evaluated based on their students' performance on a state mandated test given every year. Because of the No Child Left Behind [NCLB] Act, schools and teachers are being held accountable in more ways than ever based on students' performance.

The purpose of this study is to explore other alternatives to hold educators accountable besides a single standardized test. This exploration includes finding an alternate evaluation process for both teachers and students that reflects instruction taught in the classroom, which is based on objectives and standards. The review of literature that follows stresses the importance of connection and communication between those who provide instruction, those who create the standards, and others who decide on assessment procedures or evaluation of these assessments. In addition, the review will examine standardized testing to see if these measurements are reflective of classroom instruction and if they represent student learning.

Teacher Accountability

Evaluation of Teachers

It is important to think about evaluation methods of teachers that might or might not reflect quality teaching skills when it comes to holding teachers at such a high level for student achievement. The two main purposes of teacher evaluation, assuring teacher quality and facilitating improvement in teachers' work, will best be achieved when teachers and their organizations claim the responsibility for developing and implementing methods for assessing teacher performance that respect the complexity and depth of their professional knowledge and practice (Kleinhenz & Ingvarson, 2004) . In other words, do current teacher evaluation procedures assess all the components that teachers are supposed to possess?

The majority of educators agree with the fact that holding teachers accountable is imperative for student learning to take place. However, a lively debate surrounds the question of how accountability is established and about the place and value of professionalism in accountability (Bullough, Clark, & Patterson, 2003). According to Gallagher (2002) schools such as Vaughn Elementary in Los Angeles, California evaluate teachers in ten domain areas, and teachers are not only evaluated by their principal, but by peers and themselves, too. Teachers are rated on a scale of one to four on each standard. This school found that the alignment between taught and tested curriculum, both in terms of content and cognitive demand, is a highly significant predictor of student performance. …

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