Letter: Teacher evaluation editorial off base

March 10, 2014 

A recent Herald editorial asked the question: "Is making teacher evaluations a little less fair in exchange for $44 million in federal money the right thing to do?" Your answer: "Absolutely."

I have to ask, what is "a little less fair" about basing a job-endangering evaluation on the fact:

w The statistical error rate in states using this method is 35 percent and third of teachers in the bottom 20 percent one year were in the top 20 percent the next?

w From 50 percent to 80 percent of the change in a student's score from one test period to the next can be attributed to randomly occurring factors such as no breakfast?

w Students a teacher receives are often based on nonrandom groupings, including socio-economic status or home language?

w Standardized tests are known to be imprecise measures of true learning?

w Out-of-school factors such as food insecurity and poor health affect student achievement far more than the teacher?

w The evaluation of teachers not teaching math or language arts will be based on the scores of students they have not even taught?

Surely you are joking, Herald editorial board. Would you stand still for an evaluation of your job performance based on such "fair" criteria?

BOB VALIANT, Kennewick

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