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Abstract

The word “accountability” has become a mantra in public education. Arguably, this one word, and the movement it has produced, has shaped the direction of our field in the past decade more than any other (Harris, 2011). This movement has led to many positive changes including an examination of gaps in student achievement, the types of assessments used in schools, and the strength of the performance evaluation systems for principals and teachers. Many large urban school districts, as well as entire states, have revamped the way public school principals and teachers are evaluated. In fact many, including the State of Tennessee, Dallas Independent School District, Milwaukee Public Schools, Houston Independent School District, and the State of Illinois, have started or will start using some sort of student achievement metric as part of teacher and/or principal performance evaluations. The ideas surrounding using student growth seem simple enough: If student test scores improve, it means the teacher or principal is doing his or her job well and therefore should be rewarded. This seemingly simple idea is in fact quite complex. Many school administrators may not have the background or training to implement growth models as part of performance evaluations (Mitgang, 2012), which could lead to potentially unethical and incorrect implementation of newer forms of accountability such as growth modeling. Such problems have already arisen in a number of districts across the nation (Harris, 2011).

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