Monday, April 15, 2013

Using Test Data to Evaluate Teachers

A kindergarten teacher has a column in the Huffington Post here questioning the plan to evaluate teachers according to student test results. She points out that we don’t hold doctors accountable for patient outcomes if the patients don’t follow accepted rules for healthy living, such as exercise, good food, no smoking, etc.

An excellent column.  I especially like the comparison with doctors. 

And yes, teachers need higher pay.  At the middle and high school levels most teachers also need smaller student loads.  Teachers who teach 150 students a day, in five different classes, never have time for professional development. 

All of the out-of-class time of secondary teaches is spent planning classes, grading papers, answering e-mails and phone calls, and trying to find ways to deal with the myriad of problems in todays’ schools:  mainstreamed special ed. students, students with limited English, students undergoing trauma, etc.   Many dedicated teachers try to squeeze in time to meet individually with students as well, and virtually all teachers carry home a briefcase full of work to do at night.

In most school systems it’s almost impossible to do an excellent job, and simply stressing teachers out more is not going to help at all.   Plus you can’t evaluate your way into a superior teaching force.  Only excellent pay and good working conditions will accomplish that.

I would love to put some of these policy makers into a large urban high school, as a teacher, for a year. 

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