Tomorrow is the last day of semester tests in Helena Public Schools, and it seems like an appropriate time to reflect on testing as a concept. There has been some indication that a teacher who is good at raising student’s test grades is likely to improve their life outcomes as well. However, it is important to note that the study took place in an environment where there were few incentives for teachers to focus on raising test grades. It is entirely possible (indeed likely) that rising test grades are a side effect of teaching habits that also tend to foster positive education outcomes for students. The same positive effects the study noted may be inhibited if the focus is shifted more heavily towards testing.
But the article that struck a stronger chord with me was this , which confirms what I’ve noticed as long as I’ve been working in the district. The students who are in the greatest need of excellent teachers are those are least likely to get them – low income students or those who belong to ethnic minorities. Craig and Pogie had some reminiscing a while back about great teachers. I for one had some great teachers, but I can’t say I feel like I needed them, not nearly as much as my students now need them. The question is, how do we secure great teachers for the students who really need them?