This week in Chicago there is a dispute between the teacher’s union and government over teaching evaluations and whether focusing on standardized test scores ultimately results in a higher quality education. Here at UClass, we seek to provide a higher quality education to all students by offering authentic and engaging learning opportunities. Do you think focusing heavily on standardized test scores promotes a higher quality education?
What’s This Strike All About?
On Monday morning, 350,00 students of the Chicago public school system found themselves locked out of their schools as the teachers took to the streets to strike for the first time in 25 years. The strike came after union leaders announced that months-long negotiations over teacher contracts failed to be resolved by the midnight deadline.
The strike in the country’s third largest school district is the result of ongoing disputes between educators, school administration, city officials, the unions, and the federal government. At the center of the dispute is a state law that requires the use of students’ standardized test scores in teacher evaluations.
Chicago school leaders are proposing to have standardized test scores count as 40% of their evaluation. The move to use student test scores to assess teachers began under the Bush Jr. administration with the No Child Left Behind Act and continues today under President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative, a $4.3 billion contest that encourages schools to improve teacher effectiveness based on student performance.
Rahm Emanuel (D.), the mayor of Chicago, has defended his position to increase teacher accountability by stating, “We’re creating a culture where people are held accountable for their results.” Teacher union supporters have argued that evaluating teachers based on test scores is an inaccurate assessment of a teacher’s true impact, especially if that teacher is working with a majority of low-income students.