Assessment Letter to the Editor

The Results of Standardized Tests Do Not Reflect Teachers’ Skills

May 06, 2014 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

My first job was at a private elementary school in an affluent suburb of Ohio. When most of my 5th graders scored above the 90th percentile on the standardized test at the end of the year, I thought I must be a very gifted teacher and congratulated myself on doing such a great job.

After another very “successful” year at the school, I decided I was worth a higher salary and so applied to the public school district in Cleveland. Wanting to share my brilliance with children in need, I agreed to teach in an “inner city” school. Words can’t express the horror I experienced when the average test scores for my students were below the 10th percentile.

I decided I was not competent to teach such needy children and obtained a job in a middle-income community in another city. I found out that those children generally scored between the 40th and 60th percentiles on the same standardized assessments.

At some point during those first years, I understood that the standardized tests reflected the socioeconomic backgrounds of my students and not my teaching. Testing experts tell us that generally less than 15 percent of these test scores can be attributed to the classroom teacher. Even that assumes that the tests are designed to assess the academic achievement of a particular population and are properly administered.

Of course, a teacher can be evaluated, but it takes the knowledgeable and time-consuming involvement of other professionals. Tests can be used, but they must be designed to assess the in-school learning of each child in the class. The competence of a teacher cannot be determined by a cheap, one-size-fits-all test.

How very sad that this is not obvious to all.

Linda Mele Johnson

Long Beach, Calif.

The author is a retired teacher.

A version of this article appeared in the May 07, 2014 edition of Education Week as The Results of Standardized Tests Do Not Reflect Teachers’ Skills


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Deepen the Reach and Impact of Your Leadership
This webinar offers new and veteran leaders a unique opportunity to listen and interact with four of the most influential educational thinkers in North America. With their expert insights, you will learn the key elements
Content provided by Solution Tree
Science K-12 Essentials Forum Teaching Science Today: Challenges and Solutions
Join this event which will tackle handling controversy in the classroom, and making science education relevant for all students.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Stronger Together: Integrating Social and Emotional Supports in an Equity-Based MTSS
Decades of research have shown that when schools implement evidence-based social and emotional supports and programming, academic achievement increases. The impact of these supports – particularly for students of color, students from low-income communities, English
Content provided by Illuminate Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Assessment Data Young Adolescents' Scores Trended to Historic Lows on National Tests. And That's Before COVID Hit
The past decade saw unprecedented declines in the National Assessment of Educational Progress's longitudinal study.
3 min read
Assessment Long a Testing Bastion, Florida Plans to End 'Outdated' Year-End Exams
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state will shift to "progress monitoring" starting in the 2022-23 school year.
5 min read
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the opening of a monoclonal antibody site in Pembroke Pines, Fla., on Aug. 18, 2021.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he believes a new testing regimen is needed to replace the Florida Standards Assessment, which has been given since 2015.
Marta Lavandier/AP
Assessment Spotlight Spotlight on Assessment in 2021
In this Spotlight, review newest assessment scores, see how districts will catch up with their supports for disabled students, plus more.
Assessment 'Nation's Report Card' Has a New Reading Framework, After a Drawn-Out Battle Over Equity
The new framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress will guide development of the 2026 reading test.
10 min read
results 925693186 02