Measuring Effectiveness of ELL Teachers

By Stephen Sawchuk — August 26, 2009 1 min read
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Colleague Mary Ann Zehr has a great blog item up about the Obama administration’s push for using test scores for teacher-evaluation and -compensation purposes. Several academics are raising concerns about the idea, especially for teachers of English-language learners, she reports.

Content exams, especially those given in English rather than in native languages, are not good measures of these students’ abilities, they write.

This is not a trivial issue, when you consider that perhaps only a third of teachers explicitly teach reading/English-language arts or math. What do you do in all the other content areas? What do you do for special populations, like ELLs—or for that matter, teachers of students with disabilities? And especially given the mainstreaming of both populations and the prevalence of “team teaching,” doesn’t it get significantly harder to filter out individual teachers’ contributions to student learning?

Important questions with which the Obama administration will have to engage.

As for ELLs, perhaps some readers could weigh in on whether it would be feasible (and wise) to use the English-language-proficiency exams administered under Title III of the No Child law to gauge teacher effectiveness, rather than the math and reading content exams. The proficiency tests attempt to gauge ELLs’ progress in reading, listening, speaking, and writing in English.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.