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August 30th, 2013
How much ‘value’ can teachers really add to student achievement?
As a high school English teacher, it’s heartening to think I can “add value” to all of my students, according to The Washington Post. Unfortunately, this is completely unrealistic. I can prepare engaging lessons that appeal to different learning styles, maturity levels, and backgrounds. I can also repeat, reteach, and communicate my concerns to students and parents; my influence, though, is ultimately limited. I cannot force students to engage with curriculum, nor can I control study habits outside of my classroom. I cannot negate the effects of poverty, and I am challenged by a system increasingly subjected to misguided reforms, slashed funding, and excessive testing. Teaching is a messy art involving numerous, unpredictable variables and participants, and the learning process spans multiple venues and points in time. A fair evaluation instrument would address this multifaceted reality. The value-added instrument currently utilized in North Carolina and many other states, though, is unfair and inaccurate…