Revolution Lullabye

August 25, 2014

Popham, Tough Teacher Evaluation and Formative Assessment

Popham, W. James. “Tough Teacher Evaluation and Formative Assessment: Oil and Water?” Voices from the Middle 21.2 (December 2013): 10-14. Print.

Popham argues that teachers who commit to using formative assessment techniques in their classroom will have better student performance on the new Common Core student assessments, and therefore these teachers, whose evaluations increasingly depend on student performance on high-stakes assessments, will have better evaluations. Popham explains that although the high-stakes state and federal assessments seem to only value summative assessments, students and teachers who regularly do formative assessment do better on these tests. Popham’s article shows how federal policies, such as the 2009 “Race to the Top” initiative and the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, not only change curriculum and testing but also change teacher evaluation. He explains how teacher evaluation criteria vary considerably from state to state and district to district. Althoguh there is great diversity in the measures and the relative weight of those measures used, Popham insists student performance scores on high-stakes assessments are going to continue being one of the most significant factors used to evaluate teacher performance and effectiveness.

Quotable Quotes

“In short, because students’ achievement will play such a prominent role in almost all states’ teacher-evaluation procedures, and because teachers who employ the formative-assessment process will almost always engender improved achievement in their students, this is precisely the moment when sensible teachers should learn to employ the formative-assessment process. The higher the stakes associated with a given teacher-evaluation system, the greater should be a teacher’s interest in becoming a skilled user of formative assessment. This is a classic “win-win” situation” (14).

Notable Notes

explains formative assessment – not a particular kind of assessment, but a process of using a few or occassional “checks” to determine how well students are learning and to adapt instruction based on that feedback. Describes it as a “means-ends approach” (11)

Analysis of the teacher-evaluation system: is it that simple, really?

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