New way to gauge teachers

By Jayson Jacoby, The Baker City Herald

The Baker School District had no choice but to revamp the way it evaluates teachers.

A 2011 state law requires districts, starting July 1 and for the first time, to include students' test scores among the criteria administrators use in measuring teachers' performance.

This is a good idea.

Test scores should not be the only measuring stick, of course - and we're not convinced that scores should even be among the more important criteria.

But test scores matter, and teachers certainly have an influence on how well students do.

Where the school board did have a choice was whether to use these new evaluations in deciding teachers' salaries.

We think the board made the right choice by not linking the evaluations to teachers' pay, at least for now.

Director Kyle Knight disagreed, saying that "a performance-based system that is not associated with pay is no performance-based system at all."

We take his point.

But it seems to us more reasonable to give not only teachers, but also the administrators who evaluate them, a year to fine-tune this new system before deciding that teachers' pay will be based in part on their students' test scores.

The system Knight prefers, commonly known as merit pay, is one the board and district should have a serious debate about, and relatively soon. But that debate will be a better one when the participants have more actual results to discuss.

The Baker City Herald
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