Skip to main content

The Art of Teaching Science: Marietta City Schools To Use High-Stakes Achievement Tests in Teacher Compensation Plan

Did you know?

The Marietta City Schools believes that teacher’s paychecks should be based on how well their students do on high-stakes achievement tests, and assessments of their classroom teaching based on a few pop-in-visits by administrators and “trained” observers.

The truth is:

The problem with this scenario is teacher performance is reduced to simple metrics, which have NOT been shown to improve student growth, NOR are they predictors of so-called “highly effective teachers.”

Then: #1

Value-added Modeling (VAM) WOULD BE the first metric to calculate a teacher’s salary.  It is a method of evaluating teachers based on the contribution that a teacher makes to the learning to students in the current class compared to those same students in earlier years of schooling.


Last year a consortium of Georgia university professors, who are experts on teacher assessment, blasted the teacher evaluation system proposed by the Georgia Department of Education–the same system that Marietta City Schools proposes to carry out in 2015.


The second metric, the Georgia Teacher Keys Evaluation System (Keys) is the sum of (1) observations of teacher (and administrator) performance on the job, (2) surveys of instructional practice using student ratings & (3) student growth and academic achievement (value added modeling).

Truth: #2

Screen Shot 2013-09-08 at 5.26.31 PMIf you have been a teacher, you would probably agree that teachers are closer to being orchestra conductors than technicians.  Yet those that advocate a pay-for-performance calculus to pay teachers, focus on test scores, efficiency, cost benefit analysis and achievement and not democratic ideals that include the humanities and the arts, as well as academic subjects.   When we send our children to school, we do so in the spirit of these ideals, and not for the school district to use our children as measuring sticks to check the work of professional educators.

Teaching is an art.  Teaching is more immediate than reflective, and the artistry of teaching, much like the creative work of painters and scientists, comes to the prepared mind, to solve problems. Teachers in Marietta do this kind of work every day.


I am not advocating a plan in which teachers are not responsible for creating a high quality learning experience.  I am opposed to the Marietta City Schools’ plan to use a system of teacher evaluation that is not based on sound research.  The value added model, and the Teacher Keys Evaluation system are unproven systems of teacher evaluation.  Indeed, Georgia researchers believe the use of these teacher evaluation measures will likely lead to negative educational, social, and emotional outcomes for Georgia’s children.

I write this out of a life-long commitment to education as a public school teacher and college professor.  I am concerned that the Marietta City Schools would consider this UNPROVEN system of teacher evaluation and connect these metrics to teacher’s salaries.

NOW YOU have to decide.

What do you think?

This blog post has been shared by permission from the author.
Readers wishing to comment on the content are encouraged to do so via the link to the original post.
Find the original post here:

The views expressed by the blogger are not necessarily those of NEPC.

Jack Hassard

Jack Hassard is a former high school science teacher and Professor Emeritus of Science Education, Georgia State University. While at Georgia State he was coordina...