Another look at evaluating teachers

The first thing that I saw was this article from nola.com (The Times-Picayune) "New teacher evaluation method being proposed in Jefferson Parish". Let me summarize this article.

Basically, one of the local School Board wants to use a learning tool (Interval Testing) as a teacher evaluation tool. The Interval Testing program gives students spaced out evaluations through out the year to help them (and teachers) assess the preparedness of the students. These are non graded assessments and have been shown to help students. Note - the purpose of the implementation of Interval Testing is to increase student performance on standardized tests.

The school board's idea is to then take those Interval Testing scores to determine the effectiveness of the teachers.

Is it just me? Or is this stuff getting out of control? If you turn these learning tools into evaluation tools, don't you think the teachers will have more incentive to make sure the students score high (especially on later tests) rather than use them for learning? This is a bad idea.

Next - Chad at Uncertain Principles talks about another collection of teacher evaluation problems.

I think there are really two things going on here. First, like Chad says, evaluating teachers is a difficult task. Evaluators want some quantitative, non-subjective measurement tool (which doesn't exist). Second, evaluating the teachers by looking at evaluations of students just seems like a plan for doomedness.

Instead of giving some insightful commentary on the whole issue, I will present what I think the people involved in this are thinking:

Students: We have more homework? Why? What about this standardized test at the end of the year? I only need a passing grade to move to the next grade-level, right? It doesn't change my grades, right? Are we having spaghetti in the cafeteria?

Teachers: I can't wait for this end of year testing to be over. That way we can cover some cool and interesting topics that will really get the students pumped up about science (or math, or history, or literature, or art...). Oh, these non-graded assessments to help students learn sure are working well. It's great that they and I can see where their problems are.

Evaluators of teachers: (I put in this category principals and school board people and the like) How do we make sure these teachers are doing their job? There should be some number we can associate with each teacher to rate them. How about their height? That is a number. No wait, maybe that doesn't make sense. Oh, what about about evaluating the teachers by evaluating the students. Students get grades - right? Just use that. Or height, I still like height. Tall teachers are good teachers, my momma used to say.

But why should it stop here? Shouldn't the School Board be evaluated on how the teacher evaluations change? If they don't show that teacher evaluations are increasing, they should get a poor evaluation.

Really this comes down to the same thing as my problem with grades. There are two things in education, learning and evaluation. If you aren't careful and you mix the two up, bad stuff happens. So, am I saying that teachers should not be evaluated? Wouldn't they just play minesweeper all day then? How can students learn if you don't make them learn with a grade?

I propose that the principals and other evaluators just subjectively estimate the effectiveness of the teachers. School boards should trust the principals (I keep wanting to type principles - I blame Chad) to effectively evaluate the teachers.

More like this

One of the supposed key innovations in educational 'reform' is the adoption of value added testing. Basically, students are tested at the start of the school year (or at the end of the previous year) and then at the end of the year. The improvement in scores is supposed to reflect the effect of…
Last week, E.D. Kain took Megan McArdle to task for promoting the use of student testing as a means to evaluate teachers. This, to me, was the key point: ....nobody is arguing against tests as a way to measure outcomes. Anti-standardized-tests advocates are arguing against the way tests are being…
And they don't appear to actually fix anything either. From The Washington Post: But Duncan reiterated his commitment to testing and accountability: "I will always give NCLB credit for exposing achievement gaps and for requiring that we measure our efforts to improve education by looking at…
I'm not a fan of charter schools: they typically 'cherry pick' the best students, and then claim spectacular results (if they can do so at all), while paying teachers less and expected them to work even harder. However, here's one charter school trying something that I hope works--paying teachers…