Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Poll: Low Marks for Grading Teachers Based on Kids' Tests

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Poll: Low Marks for Grading Teachers Based on Kids' Tests

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * Many Americans, especially public school parents, give low marks to rating a teacher based partly on how students perform on standardized tests, according to a survey.

The Gallup Poll released Sunday found 55 percent opposed linking teacher evaluations to their students' test scores. Among those with children in public schools, opposition was stronger, at 63 percent.

Standardized tests are necessary, but there's an overreliance on them, said Joshua Starr, CEO of Phi Delta Kappa International, an association for educators, and a former schools superintendent. PDK, which supports teachers and educational research, paid for the poll conducted by Gallup.

"Parents see the work their kids bring home every night," Starr said in an interview. "They go to teacher conferences, and they're more likely to judge the school and the quality of the teacher based on that, than solely using test scores."

As many schools have recently begun or are preparing for a return to the classroom in the coming weeks, more than 40 states are moving forward with plans to evaluate teachers and principals in part on how well their students perform on standardized tests. It's something the Department of Education has supported and encouraged through its Race to the Top grants to schools and other programs. While the department says other factors should be considered, such as student work and parent feedback, teachers, unions and others worry there's too much emphasis on test scores.

Standardized tests in general were not popular with many in the survey, which included a telephone poll of 1,000 American adults supplemented with an online survey of nearly 3,500 more. The online survey included people initially selected at random, but only those with access to the Internet.

Nearly two-thirds of those in the online survey said too much emphasis is placed on standardized testing in public schools. Nineteen percent said they were comfortable with the tests, 7 percent said there was too little emphasis and 10 percent didn't know.

Of public school parents questioned in the online poll, nearly half 47 percent said parents should be allowed to excuse their children from taking one or more standardized tests, 40 percent disagreed and 13 percent didn't know. …

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