The emphasis of student test scores in teacher appraisal systems


  • William C. Smith UNESCO - Global Education Monitoring Report
  • Katarzyna Kubacka UNESCO – Global Education Monitoring Report



accountability, teacher appraisal, standardized test, Global Testing Culture, feedback, TALIS


Over the past 30 years teachers have been held increasingly accountable for the quality of education in their classroom. During this transition, the line between teacher appraisals, traditionally an instrument for continuous formative teacher feedback, and summative teacher evaluations has blurred. Student test scores, as an ‘objective’ measure, are increasingly used in teacher appraisals in response to historic questions that evaluations are based on ‘subjective’ components. Their central position in appraisals is part of a larger Global Testing Culture, where standardized tests are linked with high stakes outcomes. Although most teacher appraisal systems are based on multiple components, the prominence of testing as the taken for granted measure of quality suggests that not all components are given equal weight or seen as equally important. This article further explores the role of testing in high stakes teacher appraisal systems across 33 countries using data from the 2013 TALIS; addressing both the prominence of student test scores and their relative importance in teacher’s perceived feedback utility. Results indicate that, while rarely applied in isolation, student test scores are the most common component used in teacher appraisals. Relative to other components, student achievement is more often emphasized and, when emphasized in feedback, teachers are more likely to feel their appraisal had limited impact on their instruction and was completed solely as an administrative exercise.


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Author Biographies

William C. Smith, UNESCO - Global Education Monitoring Report

William C. Smith, Ph.D., is a Senior Policy Analyst with UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report and a Research Affiliate at Penn State University’s Population Research Institute. His larger research is situated around the role social policy at the national and international level plays in education equity and outcomes. This article continues his current work on the power of student test scores to shape policy, influence student outcomes, and warp the education process. His recent publications in this line of work include the edited book, The Global Testing Culture: Shaping Education Policy, Perceptions, and Practice, and National testing policies and educator based testing for accountability: The role of selection in student achievement in the OECD Journal: Economic Studies.

Katarzyna Kubacka, UNESCO – Global Education Monitoring Report

Katarzyna Kubacka, Ph.D., is a Research Officer at the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report.  Before joining the GEM Report, Katarzyna spent five years at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), working at the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) and Early Childhood and Schools division. She was a Policy Analyst on the Education and Social Progress project and the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS). Her work concentrates on the relationships between teaching and learning, skills development and well-being.




How to Cite

Smith, W. C., & Kubacka, K. (2017). The emphasis of student test scores in teacher appraisal systems. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 25, 86.



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