CNN Story on Teacher Pay and Test Scores Misleads Readers

Yesterday CNN’s blog, Schools of Thought, posted a story on teacher evaluations entitled, “Ohio links teacher pay to test scores.“ While not categorically untrue, this blog seriously misleads by simplification.

The writer suggests that teacher evaluation legislation is sudden and the result of Governor Kasich’s efforts, when in fact, the development of a framework and model have been in process for several years under the guidance of the Educator Standards Board (comprised of educators, the majority of whom are public school teachers) and the support of the Ohio Department of Education.

The writer further suggests that teacher compensation will be driven solely by test scores. The truth is that schools are experimenting with systems to compensate teachers differently based on different roles and evaluation results. Such evaluations include observations of teacher performance relative to state teaching standards and evidence of student growth, not simply a raw score.

He also suggests that decisions about promotion, salaries, etc. will be based on test scores. They will instead be determined by policies and agreements designed and collectively bargained to address the local school community’s aspirations and needs.

Finally, while there is a Race to the Top (RttT) influence on  policies and agreements in those school districts that chose participation in the federal initiative, RttT itself is not the driving force for change. It is simply a contributing factor. A more significant factor in shaping change is how districts actually decided to participate in RttT. That decision was made jointly by local school boards of education and teacher unions as a mutual commitment to labor-management collaboration to improve teaching and learning. It is also important to note that these commitments were made under the leadership of a different governor, state board of education, and legislature, not the current ones.

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