Large-Group Contest Ratings and Music Teacher Evaluation: Issues and Recommendations

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Arts Education Policy Review

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The Race to the Top program, initiated in 2009 by U.S. president Barack Obama, has resulted in new laws governing teacher evaluation, retention, and compensation. In many states, teachers’ contributions to students’ academic growth will account for up to 50 percent of their evaluations and serve as a basis for decisions regarding retention and pay. Although standardized tests will likely play a large part in determining teacher effectiveness in “core” disciplines, it remains unclear how administrators will evaluate educators in nontested subjects. Large-group contest ratings may serve as one means of measuring student growth in performance-based music ensembles, since they—like standardized tests—provide a third-party evaluation consisting of numerical scores that can be used to compare the achievement of one group or director to that of another. This article examines the issues connected with this practice and makes recommendations for the use of large-group festival assessments in music educators’ evaluations.


This article was published in Arts Education Policy Review, volume 114, issue 4, 163-169, September 27, 2013,