Professor's new book challenges use of test scores to evaluate teachers

Public Policy Professor Mark Paige: Linking employment status value-added models based on standardized test scores “is unfair and flawed”

Mark Paige faculty image

A new book by UMass Dartmouth Public Policy Professor Mark Paige warns against using standardized test scores of students to evaluate teacher performance.

The 142-page book, entitled Building a Better Teacher: Understanding Value-Added Models in the Law of Teacher Evaluation, is due for official release Thursday by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. The book takes an in-depth look at growing practice of using student test scores to measure teacher effectiveness, known as value-added modeling, with Paige concluding that such measurements are “unfair and flawed.”

“My hope is that we dial back the infatuation with the use of these evaluation models before we head off a cliff,” Paige said.  “If we rely too heavily on a flawed model we are going to be losing good teachers, and encouraging good teachers to choose only the highest test-performing schools to teach at.”

Paige said any use of such test scores in teacher evaluation should only occur with buy-in from the teachers and their unions. Otherwise the teacher evaluations would be vulnerable to legal challenges.

The book has received praise from educators, legal scholars, and education policy makers:

“Paige’s book should be required reading for those stakeholders who are truly interested in continuing a thoughtful and informed debate on the often complex issue of teacher evaluation,” said John Rumel, JD, associate professor, University of Idaho College of Law.

“His analysis approached from legal, educational and social capital perspectives is insightful and well-reasoned,” said Art Rainwater, superintendent (Retired), Madison Metropolitan School District. “Dr. Mark Paige's broad background in both education and law and thoughtful style of analysis makes his book a major contribution to the field of education policy and leadership.”

“I find Dr. Paige’s work to be an important step in restoring professionalism and humanity to the evaluation of teachers in our schools,” said Sean C. Feeney, PhD, president, Nassau County (New York) High School Principals Association.

“This is an engaging and thought-provoking book that I would recommend to all policy makers who are interested in improving student achievement,” said Carol A. Woodbury, superintendent of schools, Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District (Massachusetts).

CONTACT: John Hoey, 508.264.5920 or jhoey@umassd.edu


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