Jun 23 2010

A teacher’s conditions on assessing her teaching

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 8:32 am

Is U.S. Edu-Rhetoric a Pipe Dream? A Teacher Wants to Know

Michele Kerr, a graduate of Stanford’s teacher education program and a guest author at NAS.org, has an admirable op-ed in the Washington Post today. In her piece, “The Right Way to Assess Teachers’ Performance,” she notes the backlash from teachers over being tested by student performance, as required by Obama’s Race to the Top program. She says she, and probably most teachers, would be willing to be evaluated based on students’ test scores, provided a few conditions are met. “Let’s negotiate,” she says.

Kerr proposes that:

1. Teachers be assessed based on only those students with 90 percent or higher attendance.
2. Teachers be allowed to remove disruptive students from their classroom on a day-to-day basis.
3. Students who don’t achieve “basic” proficiency in a state test be prohibited from moving forward to the next class in the progression.
4. Teachers be assessed on student improvement, not an absolute standard—the so-called value-added assessment.

“Accepting these reasonable conditions might reveal that common rhetorical goals for education (everyone goes to college, algebra for eighth-graders) are, to put it bluntly, impossible,” she asserts. “So we’ll either continue the status quo at a stalemate or the states will make the tests so easy that the standards are meaningless.”

I can’t disagree with the conditions the teacher wants to put on assessing her teaching performance. The problem, of course, is that in many urban school districts, this would mean that teachers would be getting assessed based on the performance of only about half of the students.

Therein lies the problem.  We have tolerated a huge decline in expectations, both in academic performance and behavior at school, while clinging to politically correct rhetoric.  We are now in a situation where any imaginable solution is going to be very painful. 

But not as painful as doing nothing, or doing something that is merely cosmetic.

4 Responses to “A teacher’s conditions on assessing her teaching”

  1. K dippre says:

    I just don’t believe that there is some “magic” test that truly assesses the quality or intelligence of a teacher or student. Not everyone is cut out to attend college, plain and simple.

  2. harmonicminer says:

    I think all we’re talking about is looking at the basic performance (measured by total assessment, not just a single test) of students who fall into the carefully described categories above… meaning students who came to the class reasonably prepared for it, and attended and made an effort, and using only their performance at the end of the class as some kind of measure of the teacher’s teaching, as opposed to expecting a teacher to produce miracles with unprepared, uninvolved students.

    And yes, not everyone should go to college. Truer words were never spoken….

  3. K dippre says:

    In regards to those unprepared and uninvolved students, I’m tired of the various school boards, bureaucrats, politicians, etc. always levying the blame against the teachers. Indeed, there are plenty of incompetent teachers out there, but very little is ever said about the disadvantaged or dysfunctional family environments that many of the students come from. If only school districts could devise some “magic” test to fix all of that….

  4. Saxman says:

    There are many factors that will influence a childs – or adults ability to learn. If a child has parents going through a divorce – or if an adult has work related issues – there attention and learning will suffer at no fault of the teacher. I think that overall learning according to the curriculum should be one factor. I believe that if the teachers want to be paid according to their work, then an assessment of the classroom walls, the lesson plans, a webcam and mic in the class that can be used for teacher performance evaluation should be included. Will some of this be subjective…yes…but what job evaluation isn’t?

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