Sunday, April 20, 2014

4-20-13 Curmudgucation : How To Do Real Teacher Evaluation

CURMUDGUCATION: How To Do Real Teacher Evaluation:

How To Do Real Teacher Evaluation

The fans of Reformy Stuff are not wrong about everything. For example, they are correct that the general state of teacher evaluation in this country was pretty useless. Their mistake was replacing Inertly Useless with Actively Destructive. The old system was a simple two step process (1- check for teacher pulse; 2- award perfect score [edit--or, in some Bad Places To Work, award lousy score just because you want to]) while the new step is a little more involved (1- apply random groundless unproven mathematical gobbledeegook to big bunch of bad data; 2- award randomly assigned bad score).

Years ago, frustrated with the old mostly-useless model and before the current looney tunes empire took hold, a friend and I had started to rough out an evaluation system. Let me sketch out the basics for you.

What Should a Good Teacher Eval System Do?

1) Provide clear expectations to the teacher. One of the wacky things about teaching is that everybody is sure that everybody knows what a teacher's exact job description is, and yet it invariably turns out that nobody agrees. In many districts, teachers enter their classrooms with no job description and no really clear idea of what is expected of them.

2) Provide useful feedback and remediation. That includes setting the stage for meaningful remediation if it's called for. Only a small percentage of new teachers will be awesome right out of the box or clearly hopeless. Most are waiting to be guided toward either excellence or despair, and most districts depend on a system that I like to call "Blind Luck." I swear there are teachers out there whose careers could have gone a completely different direction if they had just eaten lunch with a different set of veteran teachers in their first few years.

3) Provide the district with clear information on whether they need to retain, retrain or refrain from hiring permanently.

Assumptions in Building the Eval System

1) Precise, observable data is the enemy or real, useful information. In the hands of hard data overlords, traits like "maintains good communication with parents" ends up being some numerical observable, such as "calls at least two parents every five days." Hard data fans like really precise measures, and so their data may be precise, but their conclusion is always wrong. Mr. McSwellteach may personally visit 150 parents a month or sing in a church choir with half of his total parental 

4-19-13 Curmudgucation Week
CURMUDGUCATION:School Accountability Has Changed ForeverRegardless of how the battle for the soul of public education shakes out in the end (or at least in the future-- I don't know that we'll ever see an end), there are things that we have already lost for at least a generation, collateral damage, the china in a shop over-run by a herd of clashing cattle.Perhaps the biggest casualty is the trust