Our Opinion: Drop unworkable student rating system

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The concept of a "student impact rating" to measure teacher and administrator performance is deservedly falling out of favor. Massachusetts should abandon the effort.

Devising a numerical rating to measure a student's progress is a holdover from President Obama's Race to the Top initiative of five years ago. Developing a system that doesn't scapegoat educators has predictably proven to be impossible, and last week the Massachusetts Teachers Association and other educational groups urged the state Senate to remove student impact ratings through a budget amendment.

Parents, by taking education seriously or failing to do so, have a dramatic impact on students' performance, and teachers shouldn't be penalized for bad parenting. Teachers of students with learning disabilities could be similarly penalized, and as Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, observed in The Boston Globe, "How do you measure a music teacher's impact on a student's proficiency in music?"

In reaction to criticism and to studies, including one from UMass, indicating a reliable rating system is not doable, Congress dropped the student academic growth requirement from the latest education funding act. Other states have dumped it and so should Massachusetts. Traditional evaluation methods, such as classroom observations, aren't flawless but they are not unworkable and unfair either.


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