Measuring teacher effectiveness: Day 4


Okay, so for the past few days I have offered up a perspective on measuring teacher effectiveness, devising a matrix that would include...
  • student test scores
  • peer evaluations
  • administrative evaluations
  • student evaluations

Now I don't know squat about algorithms and weighting and all that other data-jargon jazz, but are we to believe that if students, peers, admins, and student test scores all paint a dismal picture of the work an educator is doing over the course of a three year period that, that "Naw... this teacher is really just a 'victim' in all this. We should really be content with their work because, well, after all, they do have tenure."

I just don't buy it.

I don't know what the ultimate stick should be, whether it's firing or forced PD, or a probationary period with strict oversight or blah, blah, blah, but I do believe that the teacher should be able to offer a defense of their classroom practice before any real consequences are divvied out.

And what would that be?

Have the teacher demonstrate their effectiveness by means of proving student achievement in their rooms.

Put the onus on the teacher. They've been accused by the data, the stats, their peers, their students and all the traditional measures -- multiple measures -- but, still, this is America... you get your day in court.

Prove yourself.

If your peers don't get it and the test scores don't show it and the students don't feel it and your admins don't see it, get up, like they used to do back in the day when people "passed the boards" and give an oral defense of your classroom practice to a committee of third party teacher-jurors over the course of three intense hours.

Our kids deserve that much if we are to ever put them in your classroom ever again.

You'll need to talk a good game, for sure, because there will be questions.
And you'll need to go beyond talk by means of proof of student achievement, too, but the onus will be on the teacher to demonstrate this.

And we're not talking one kid's extra credit project being sufficient; we are talking (if you teach at the secondary level) that you must show the work of at least 75-100 students in a pre- and post- type of way.

If you go "on notice" after Year 2 then you'll have all of Year 3 to collect this "proof".

Computers can make the documentation of this evidence quite easy. From PBL's done in your room to classroom papers you assigned and graded that were submitted electronically, trust me, there are ways to evaluate the work being done by teachers in the classroom.

Maybe the NBCT folks could lend a hand in the creation and evaluation of this stuff? They seem fairly good at it. (Have you seen their stuff. WOW!)

All I am sayin' is, there are ways.

Give the "accused" their day in court... but the onus will have to be on them to defend their classroom practice if the multiple measures approach is egregiously against them.

Teacher effectiveness through multiple measures is not impossible -- and it's not as complicated as putting a man on the moon.

Just think of all the lemons that could be squeezed within the next 5 years if we were to start this now.

Would our schools not be better? And really, would you be so fearful of being railroaded or sold down the river with such a diversity of assessments of yur effectiveness as sample over the course of three years?

And note that not once did the issue of student poverty or the suburbs or race or ELL kids or Special Needs or any of that come into play.

Really, the only area where that might even pay a role is in student test performance... but if we used growth model assessments for state testing in concert with portfolio-based assessment as opposed to high stakes bubble tests (have I mentioned how inane bubble tests are in the past few days? I am getting itchy to bash them again!) we could make some exceptional progress.

Peers who teach in areas of high poverty aren't going to bash you for teaching in an area of high poverty. Suburban folks who merely have to roll out a few number two pencils in order for their kids to ace these high stakes bubble tests might actually feel some heat to step up and teach, instead of coast, or else their peers and admins and students would get on them.

Is it perfect? If it flawless? Of course not. But what is? Don't be unreasonable. The real question is...

Is measuring the effectiveness of our teachers, if done fairly, not more fair to the students of this nation than not measuring them at all?

If not done fairly then it's not fair and the answer is no. But if done fairly?

Plus, for the teachers that reach consistently high scores, maybe we can figure out a way to celebrate them in a way that NCLB has not even attempted to try.

Merit pay? Maybe. But recognition of some sort?

Doesn't it seem long overdue?

Doesn't much of this seem long overdue?

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