In support of Referred Law 16, Governor Daugaard has been able to recruit one teacher with ties to the education-privatization movement (Milken has pushed privatization of education in Israel, too) and one administrator who resorts to vague anti-teacher generalizations.

In response, I offer 88 Chicago-area university professors who explain how a core policy of Referred Law 16, test-based teacher evaluations, will hurt students. These professors directed their critique at Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan for the Chicago Public Schools—you know, the same plan that drove Chicago teachers to strike for a week this fall—but their critique applies well to Governor Daugaard's plan to base 50% of every South Dakota teacher's professional rating on student scores on standardized tests.

Concern #3: Students will be adversely affected by the implementation of this new teacher-evaluation system. When a teacher's livelihood is directly impacted by his or her students' scores on an end-of-year examination, test scores take front and center. The nurturing relationship between teacher and student changes for the worse, including in the following ways:

  1. With a focus on end-of-year testing, there inevitably will be a narrowing of the curriculum as teachers focus more on test preparation and skill-and-drill teaching. Enrichment activities in the arts, music, civics, and other non-tested areas will diminish.
  2. Teachers will subtly but surely be incentivized to avoid students with health issues, students with disabilities, students who are English Language Learners, or students suffering from emotional issues. Research has shown that no model yet developed can adequately account for all of these ongoing factors.
  3. The dynamic between students and teacher will change. Instead of "teacher and student versus the exam," it will be "teacher versus students' performance on the exam."
  4. Collaboration among teachers will be replaced by competition. With a "value-added" system, a 5th grade teacher has little incentive to make sure that his or her incoming students score well on the 4th grade exams, because incoming students with high scores would make his or her job more challenging.
  5. When competition replaces collaboration, every student loses [Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates for Transformative Education (CReATE), "Misconceptions and Realities about Teacher and Principal Evaluation: An Open Letter of Concern to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, and the Chicago School Board," CreateChicago, March 26, 2012].

Do consult the 88 professors' bibliography. They provide four academic sources to back up just the above-quoted statements... which is four more sources than Keegan, Graves, Daugaard, or anyone else has provided to show Referred Law 16 will do any good for our schools.

Bonus Test-Jamming! FairTest.org notes that the Common Core Standards (Sibby hates 'em, and I'm inclined to let him) mean a lot more money will be spent on a lot more tests for a lot more kids. If you'd like to protect your kids from those tests, step #1 is to vote against Referred Law 16. Step #2 is to check out what FairTest.org calls a growing national rebellion against high-stakes testing.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to prepare a vocab quiz for my French 3 kids.