“What grade did you get?… That was an easy test… I just can’t seem to get good grades in this course. The use of good or bad in speaking about scores received implies a restricted notion of what the grades mean. These perceptions of grades reflect the limited meanings attached to them by stakeholders, but more important for our purposes here is that such attitudes surrounding grades reflect the need for understanding the way they are arrived at as well as understanding that they are communicative devices intended to provide information to the student and other stakeholders about progress.” (Shermis, 2011, p. 364).
This quote from Classroom Assessment in Action reflects what we tend to think about when mentioning the word “grades”. Students tend to be more concerned about the grade than if real learning took place. What Shermis tries to stress in this chapter is that many factors are involved in grades and before we come to conclusions we need to understand the factors that have gone into each grading situation.
Thus, the use of student grades as a factor in evaluating teachers is complicated. If the meanings and factors surrounding the grades of the students can be communicated, then it may be used to evaluate a teacher. But if a teacher is just being evaluated by the grades of their students without any background or meaning, then it would not be a good way to evaluate the teacher.
I think the same way about using state test results to evaluate a school district. If I am to evaluate a school district, I would look at the state test results but that would only be one factor in my evaluation. I would like to know more about the students and the district so that more meaning and understanding can be given to the state tests.
In conclusion, grades and state testing must be understood in a given context in order to use them for evaluation purposes.
Shermis, M.S. & DiVesta, F.J. (2011). Classroom Assessment in Action. Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield.