Quality Assurance

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Science  23 Nov 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6110, pp. 1011
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6110.1011-a

Measuring teacher quality is a contentious topic; everyone agrees it should be done, but few can agree on how best to do it. Multiple-choice assessments are easy and cost-effective, but are they accurate enough to determine teacher certification and promotion? Hill et al. investigated this question by evaluating 10 elementary and 24 middle-school teachers in the United States on a written math assessment, during their mathematics instruction, and on their students' performance on a state assessment. Although the written math assessment did identify teachers below a minimum competence criterion, it failed to identify all of the weak teachers, suggesting that the written test could be more reliable if expanded to detect the types of difficulties observed during classroom teaching. In contrast, the written test identified most teachers with strong observational scores, suggesting that it could be used as a screen for teacher promotions. Taken together, these results indicate that multiple-choice exams can be predictive of classroom practice. To verify the reliability of these exams, future research should include comparing preservice teachers' scores with their later practice and student outcomes scores.

Am. J. Educ. 118, 489 (2012).

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