Most don’t support rating teachers on student scores, survey finds

A majority of Americans don't support using student test scores to evaluate teachers, but do believe evaluations should influence whether a teacher is fired, according to a new survey.

The 46th annual "Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools" conducted by Gallup and Phi Delta Kappa International, an educators' organization, found that 61 percent of respondents opposed plans – like one in Georgia – to make student test scores 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation.

Georgia and several other states are launching new, high-stakes evaluation systems that influence decisions about hiring, firing, certification and — for some — pay. Many are tied to a $400 million federal grant called Race to the Top. Georgia recently said it would ask for another year before fully launching the controversial evaluation system.

Survey respondents disagreed with using student scores to rate teachers, but 65 percent said it was “very important” evaluations be used as evidence in a teacher’s dismissal. A smaller number, 46 percent, felt strongly about linking evaluations to pay or bonuses.

Results from the study are based on a phone study completed by 1,001 adults across the nation.

Respondents also said they trusted public school teachers and indicated support for more rigorous teacher preparation programs.