California Teachers Shouldn't Be Evaluated by Students' Tests, Court Rules

By George Khoury, Esq. on September 28, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Last week, California teachers across 13 districts breathed a collective sigh of relief as a court ruled that standardized test scores of students should not be factored into teacher evaluations. Judge Goode explained that legislative purposes behind the standardized tests are to evaluate students, schools, and even whole local education agencies, and that using the tests to evaluate individual teachers was not envisioned by the legislature.

While the proponents for evaluating teachers based on standardized test results, a group called Students Matter, can still appeal this ruling, the ruling against them clearly explains that the law does not say what they want it to say. This lawsuit was strongly opposed by the California teachers union.

Standardized Tests Help Teachers Evaluate Students

The attorney for the petitioners in this case believes that teachers, like other professionals, should be evaluated based upon results of the standardized testing. However, this ignores the societal factors that have an impact on standardized testing scores and what these tests are designed for. Primarily, standardized tests are used as tools for teachers, schools, and districts to evaluate how their students measure up, and to discover where students generally need more attention.

The petitioners specifically requested the court to force 13 school districts to include standardized test results as part of their routine Stull Act evaluations. However, the court's careful analysis of the Stull Act resulted in a decision affirming that the school districts acted properly in not including the test results when evaluating teachers.

The Flaw in Using Standardized Tests to Evaluate Teachers

Standardized testing, as a whole, has been heavily scrutinized since it started being used. Apart from the discriminatory aspects that show that standardized tests do not accurately assess the performance of students from diverse backgrounds, teachers are often criticized if they teach to the test.

Standardized tests are primarily a tool to aid teachers and educators in understanding where students need the most attention. If teachers are incentivized to teach to the test, the results would no longer provide the type of honest assessment teachers need to fine tune their curriculum to better fit the needs of their students.

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