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By Don J. Fessenden
Many political leaders believe schools should be run like businesses and while the idea of tying a person performance evaluation to output/production may work in corporate America, it makes absolutely no sense in education.
Unfortunately several states have already adopted the practice of tying teacher evaluations to student performance. In these states, unions are working overtime providing support to teachers facing lay-offs or even termination because of their students poor performance. There are those justifying this type of evaluation system and ignoring the fact that there are to many variables outside of their control to make this system valid.
The variable compromising this teacher evaluation systems validity is the fact that no two teachers teach the same student the same curriculum. Other variables effecting the validity of the evaluation system are listed below:
* Cognitive ability;
* Role models;
* Parental support;
* Peer group;
* Teacher effectiveness;
* School/ District effectiveness;
* Community effectiveness
* And many more.
As an educator with more than twenty years of experience, it's very hard to understand how educational leaders could signed-off on this evaluation system. One answer given often for the adoption of this evaluation system is that teachers are the only variable falling under district control. Wow! Really? So basically, because there's no way to control any of the other variables affecting student performance we place the weight of the students world directly on the teachers going above and beyond to provide the best possible educational experience.
Does this make sense? We don’t believe this makes sense and is acceptable. And while we support ongoing teacher evaluations, we strongly disagree with this student performance teacher evaluation system. Our leaders need to understand that looking at a teachers effectiveness based on student performance is an extremely bad idea.
There are numerous studies echoing this same sentiment. Until state and federal educational leadership stand up for teachers and push back, or change this system we will continue to waste valuable time and money on am evaluation system that is creating a barrier between those leaders of education and the teachers accountable for the education of our children. If closing the achievement gap is the primary goal, we need to find a better solution.
In fact, the continued utilization of this evaluation system is counterproductive and decreases the creditability of the teaching profession, dedicated to educating tomorrows citizens. We need to create a valid teacher evaluation system that rewards those educators working with the most challenging students and removes those sub-standard teachers who have held on to their jobs because of the failures of those in administrative positions.
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