DOVER, N.H., Feb. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Measured Progress has received a two-year, $1.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the development of a teacher evaluation system that combines performance tasks with other measures of student achievement. The new system will specifically help inform the evaluation of teaching effectiveness in grades and subject areas not covered by federally mandated state accountability tests.
The performance tasks or assessments require students to perform a specific task rather than select an answer from a ready-made list. They will be piloted to determine their viability to serve as components of more comprehensive, through-course or end-of-course tests in science, social studies, and mathematics.
Performance assessment refers to testing approaches—constructed-response questions or more substantial tasks and activities—that yield either scorable products (like essays) or performances that are themselves scorable (such as oral presentations). In addition to content knowledge, they can capture problem solving and critical thinking capabilities, as well as a variety of communication skills—all key to college and workplace readiness. The grant project aligns with Measured Progress's considerable experience in performance assessment, including statewide programs involving extended performance tasks and portfolios.
"Despite legitimate issues with the use of student test results in the evaluation of teaching, a teacher's job is nevertheless to foster student learning, which should be reflected in test results," said Measured Progress Chief Executive Officer Stuart Kahl. "However, teacher evaluations based in part on student growth, as documented in statewide accountability tests, will lead to greater pressure on teachers to 'teach to the test.'" Therefore, according to Kahl, the need exists to create tests that, if "taught to," will benefit students rather than harm them by leading to a decreased emphasis on higher-order skills in instruction.
Measured Progress will conduct large-scale field testing of performance tasks in the fall of 2011 and spring of 2012. The Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing [CRESST] and the Shell Centre will provide the majority of the tasks. Field testing is expected to take place in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Colorado. Measured Progress operates scoring facilities in Colorado and Kentucky and holds testing or professional development contracts in both Kentucky and Louisiana. The field testing data will be used in special research probes, which will inform the development of a blueprint for combining various measures (e.g., student academic performance, survey data, and other measures) to create a profile of teacher effectiveness for traditionally untested grades and subjects.
"With this grant, Measured Progress will focus on key elements we believe are critical to increasing student achievement in the United States—providing all students with an effective teacher in every classroom, every year, in order to help ensure they graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college and the workforce," said Vicki Phillips, director of education, College Ready, U.S. Program, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We look forward to following this work as Measured Progress develops a system for using student test results, along with other information, to evaluate teacher effectiveness."
"The beauty of the study focusing on 'untested' grades and subjects is that it keeps control of the teacher evaluation process at the local level—that is, in the hands of teachers' supervisors, who can take into account individual teachers' unique situations, in tandem with student test results, to help inform those evaluations," Kahl said.
Measured Progress is a Dover, New Hampshire-based, not-for-profit organization dedicated to student learning and improving instruction in the standards-based classroom. Since 1983, Measured Progress has successfully partnered with more than half of the states across the nation in support of programs that have affected millions of students. The organization develops state- and district-level assessments and is the nation's leading provider of alternate assessment for students with cognitive disabilities. In addition, Measured Progress offers professional development services and products that assist educators in creating and using assessment to measure student achievement and improve instruction. www.measuredprogress.org
SOURCE Measured Progress