In eliminating test scores to evaluate teachers, New York State has taken a step in the right direction (“New York Lawmakers Pass Bill to Drop Student Test Scores From Teacher Reviews,” The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 24). Although the action will be attacked for lowering the quality of education, it reflects reality.
So much of instructional effectiveness is dependent on the students that teachers happen to inherit. Teachers who are assigned a group of Talmudic scholars will shine in spite of, not because of, their expertise. Conversely, teachers who are assigned a group of future felons will fail in spite of, not because of, their expertise.
The only way to get around the issue is to randomly assign students. That eliminates the inherent advantage or disadvantage teachers have in producing results. But such a policy will never happen because principals want to reward certain teachers and punish others.
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