Teachers Sabotaged by Test Scores
“My mom said teachers with lower grades were getting kicked out because they’re not good enough,” said Niko Amber, a fifth grader. In New York City, fourth-grade test results can determine where a child will go to middle school. Fifth-grade scores have never mattered much, so teachers have been free to focus on project-based learning. Public school number one forty-six in Brooklyn is composed of teachers who have been archaeologists, owned theaters, and trained teachers. One of them won a scholarship to go do research in Mexico and Peru. They stay late, and plan out what they are going to do the next week on Fridays. Unfortunately their tests scores are horrible, ranging from a 7 to a 1 in math, and an 11 in English. In 2010, in the hope of winning a grant from the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program, state officials and the teachers’ unions agreed to let students’ test scores count for 20 percent of a teacher’s evaluation. Then last spring with little public notice student test scores were made to count for up to 40 percent. The issue seems to be a combination of lying numbers and scores that are the combined results of tests from 2007 all the way up to 2010. Eighty-nine percent of Public school number one forty-six fifth graders were “rated” proficient in math in 2009, but the year before, as fourth graders, ninety-seven percent were “rated” as proficient. The difference between 89 percent and 97 percent proficiency at Public school number one forty-six is the result of three children scoring a 2 out of 4 instead of a 3 out of 4. Fortunately officials seem to be waking up, and next year instead of publishing the teachers’ scores publicly they will be handed out privately.