I am writing in response to the Jan. 17 editorial “Top-Grade: Pittsburgh Needs A High Standard For Teachers.” The impasse between the Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers concerning a new teacher evaluation system holds extra importance because of its connection to a 40 million dollar grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Fruition of that grant — 15 million dollars — may be dependent on the district and the union reaching an agreement on a revamped teacher evaluation system that will tie teacher effectiveness to student test scores.
Few could argue that teacher performance should not be measured, but any barometer that included standardized test scores would be flawed, inaccurate and a matter of luck.
Teachers service a variety of learners of differing backgrounds, intelligences and demographics. Additionally, affluent students naturally score higher than those who are at-risk.
Using students’ test scores to evaluate teachers is no different than counting patient cavities when judging dentists or firing nutritionists for obesity rates.
BRIAN J. DUERMEYER
The writer is a seventh grade English teacher in Shaler Area School District.