Friday, October 26, 2012

Teacher Evaluation

Right now there is talk about how to evaluate teachers, about creating systems because "bad" teachers are a theoretical problem.  So we need a system - that is ok, prior to teaching I was judged by performance and I don't have a problem with it -- except our real product is not seen for about 5 years following HS!  But let me reiterate I have no problem with being evaluated and no problem using student results.

In business it was simply profit, did I do my job so we made money.  The problem I have with our educational system is we use age to determine whether a student it meeting expectations (a sophomore should "blank"')  - every student is different and thus every goal should be different.  I have sophomores who find the testing a joke because it is so easy and others who are taking Pre-Algebra and are not ready for the tests.  Then to top it off the students have no reason to perform well, a student can just answer whatever and there is no recourse (take it from me -- I have seen students just answer B the whole way on the entire test...).

But we need to evaluate!  We need to measure and we need to make continuous improvement!  So we need to work hard at data and expectations.  How do we know we are getting good data is a tough one!  And as a math teacher how do I know that the person evaluating me even understands what I am teaching?  These are the type of things running through my head after listening to a presentation about the new teacher evaluation system being implemented here in Wisconsin.  I believe in pre and post testing every year, I think we need to make sure that students move forward every single day.  And the research about poor teachers does require us to make sure they are not a permanent fixture in the school.  But is this rating system really going to get rid of the poor teachers, should it be the evaluation system's "'job."

The thing about "bad" teachers is we already know who they are -- the real problem is administration.  Prior to teaching I worked union and non-union shops --- and when I had a "bad" employee the only difference was I needed to do "special" forms in the union setting to get rid of "bad" employees.  I formed a plan and the "bad" employee either improved or was gone.  In either setting, union or non-union they got "canned."   In education administrators are typically pussies (excuse the language, but it is true).  They complain about the union but really they just don't want to do their job and be the bad guy.  They don't do the observations, don't write the plans and don't do the firing.  And with the standard 2 year probation period that teachers have about 3/4 of "bad" teacher problems should not happen, but again the typical administrator just gives too many chances.  They need to "student-up" and do their job....

So I do not fear for myself or my school.  I feel I will do well and our school's scores are "good."  But I also realize that  government will pick the rules and they do not know or understand the needs of schools; there will be a ton of forms, tests, etc and that will take away from resources for students.  And the worst part is it will most likely not solve the problem, it will make educators feel prosecuted and really that keeps young people from becoming teachers.  So the best and brightest won't teach. (It also puts small districts in a real bind because of the bureaucracy.)

So it comes down to this in my opinion, pre/post test, make administrators jobs dependent on results too that will force them to be the "bad" guy when they must be.  And stop screaming about "bad"' teachers, overall they are small group, just make the "bosses" handle them.  And finally respect educators - so the best/brightest see it as a respected career choice, right now we are making an environment where teaching is not well respected.  And that keeps the best/brightest away, and in 10 years that problem will really show.....