Teacher Effectiveness and Student Test Scores by Curt Dudley-Marling, author of Preparing the Nation’s Teachers to Teach Reading

Originally posted on In Defense of Teacher Education | July 2016

Last week-end I met an Ohio teacher named Judy who works with elementary-aged, struggling readers. I asked Judy where she taught and, as she told me, she couldn’t help sharing her intense frustration with Ohio’s system for evaluating teachers which, according to her, relies heavily on test scores. She felt this system extremely unfair to her since, almost by definition, the students she worked with will make only limited progress over the course of a school year. The pressures of these accountability measures were clearly robbing Judy of the pleasures of teaching.

Implicit in NCTQ’s assertion that university-based teacher prep programs aren’t adequately preparing teachers to teach reading is the claim that teachers are generally unprepared for the rigors of teaching. The sense that many teachers aren’t up to the task is behind the spread of teacher evaluation schemes that Judy found so stressful and unfair. Most of these teacher evaluation systems rely on student test scores which may seem logical but, as it happens, student test scores are not a fair or principled way to evaluate teachers. There are at least a couple of reasons for this. First of all – and this may come as a surprise to many people – research indicates that teachers are NOT the most significant influence on academic achievement. According to Berliner and Glass (2014), most research indicates that less than 30% of a student’s academic success is attributable to schools, and teachers are only part of the overall school effect, perhaps not even the most important part. Other factors, particularly the material effects of poverty, account for over 60% of the variance that can be accounted for in student achievement (Berliner & Glass, 2014). Another problem with using test scores to measure teacher effectiveness is that these measures tend not to be very reliable. Teachers whose students do very well one year often do not do well the following year (Berliner and Glass, 2014), not a surprising finding given the influence of non-school factors in student achievement.

I am not arguing that teachers should not be evaluated. Far from it. But teacher evaluation schemes based on test scores are unfair, unreliable and ineffective. And they make a difficult job – teaching – even more difficult.

Read more from Curt Dudley-Marling on In Defense of Teacher Education.


012-defense-of-teachers-curt-dudley-marling-garn-pressPreparing the Nation’s Teachers to Teach Reading: A Manifesto in Defense of “Teacher Educators Like Me”

Paperback: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
eBook: Amazon (Kindle discounted ebook just $2.99 with the purchase of the print book) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo eBooks
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-942146-20-9
eBook ISBN: 978-1-942146-21-6


Book Description

Curt Dudley-Marling offers a spirited defense of the work of university-based teacher educators to prepare the nation’s teachers to teach reading. He provides a damning analysis of reports by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), which claim that teacher educators are doing a poor job of preparing teachers to teach reading. He also details the theory and research that support the meaning-based approach to reading advocated by many university-based reading educators. He concludes that the ultimate goal of many educational reform groups like NCTQis to undercut public support for traditional public schools to pave the way for free market-based schooling based on competition and profit, where literacy is a commodity to be exchanged in the marketplace and individuals are mere cogs in an economic machine. Now available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Ebook now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and Kobo eBooks.


“This manifesto comes not a moment too soon. Curt Dudley-Marling offers a spirited defense of teacher educators rooted in the reasons they choose to teach. Those in the trenches will greatly appreciate the fresh ammunition he provides.” – Anthony Cody, Author of The Educator and Oligarch

“One of the most important scholars on literacy.” P.L. Thomas, author of Beware the Roadbuilders: Literature as Resistance published by Garn Press.

“… A robust defense of an educational approach that is shockingly out of fashion in the policy world: a meaning-centered education that is irreducible to standardized test scores.” – Peter Smagorinsky, University of Georgia

“This book should be required reading for everyone preparing to teach children to read, everyone currently teaching children to read, everyone who knows a child who is being taught to read, and everyone who makes policy about teaching children to read.” – Carole Edelsky, Arizona State University


Liked it? Support Garn Press Indie Publishing. Take a second to support Garn Press on Patreon!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!