Misrepresenting the Consequences of Teacher Evaluations

Dave Leonhardt’s column on teacher accountability is a good illustration of the general (and in my opinion correct) consensus on the issue — something along the lines of  “It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we have, and it creates a net utility gain for the system.”

It’s also important to point out that the critiques coming from the anti-accountability crowd are somewhat misleading. They tend to forecast a doomsday scenario in which the country’s best teachers are getting fired because of a little statistical variance. In reality, it would be almost impossible for a good teacher to be fired because of it. In fact, it would be almost impossible for an average teacher to be fired because of it.

Evaluations and value-added scores are meant to weed out the absolute dregs of the teaching profession.  As long as you’re somewhere above the 30th percentile, there’s little chance you’ll be fired. And if you’re below the 30th percentile, well, then your job deserves to be in jeopardy.

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