NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 17, 2008

The Dallas Independent School District (DISD) employs circular logic on the much-discussed Classroom Effectiveness Index (CEI), a system that supposedly measures how much teachers contribute to their students' learning over the course of a year, says the Dallas Morning News.

For example:

  • The CEI, through a complex statistical analysis, converts student test scores into a number; basically, the higher the number, the more effective the teacher.
  • DISD has been making these calculations for more than a decade and trusts the formula because it has allowed outside researchers to poke and prod at it.
  • The district says it doesn't actually use the CEI for anything -- definitely not performance evaluations because it promised the teacher associations it wouldn't.

So, in short, what DISD has is a teacher evaluation formula it believes in but doesn't use very often -- and certainly not to evaluate teachers except when it comes to federal grant money, says the News.  In that very special case, teachers with the highest CEIs will split $22 million, with the tip-top ranks earning as much as $10,000.

And that would be fine except that parents and taxpayers who rely on those teachers' abilities don't get to know who rates where because the evaluation information is confidential, says the News.

Source: Editorial, "Final Score Is No Score," Dallas Morning News, January 16, 2008.


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