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Home > Ask an Expert > Should test scores be used to evaluate staff performance (including the superintendent)?

Jim Hull, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Public Education

Should test scores be used to evaluate staff performance (including the superintendent)?

A: Data can and should be used to evaluate staff performance. But data doesn’t mean just test scores.

Data is all information you can put together on a staff person, including qualitative data such as information gathered from observing teachers in the classroom and determining if a superintendent met his or her goals.  

Test scores can be used to evaluate a staff person, including the superintendent, but they need to be used correctly. Using test score data incorrectly can do more harm than good. So districts should know exactly what test score data is being used and what its strengths and weaknesses are. One way to use test data that has become quite popular is value-added data. Value-added data can be quite effective at isolating the effect of a teacher or administrator, but no value-added model is perfect. You can learn more about how to use value-added data and other growth models in the Center’s Measuring Student Growth.

Test scores are only one part of evaluating anyone in education. Additional data, such as classroom observations or peer reviews, should be taken into consideration in any evaluation. There is no perfect evaluation system out there. And no evaluation system fits everyone. So it is up to each district to decide for itself which attributes staff should have, the outcomes they value most, and then develop an evaluation system around those goals.

For more information about what research says about performance pay systems, check out the Center’s Promise of Peril? Teacher Pay for Performance.