Teacher Evaluations

I came across this entry about professor evaluations a few days ago and have been thinking how it K-12 teachers are evaluated. While college professor’s only feedback comes from student evaluations, K-12 teachers face a different monster.

I get evaluated every two years. Mostly, an evaluation entails a couple pre-arranged class observations by a vice principal or principal and then a meeting to discuss the results. On a day-to-day basis, I feel good about my teaching abilities, but when being evaluated, I schedule the visits for my best lessons. The lessons that I know will spark a great discussion or the PowerPoint with the coolest multimedia elements. Then I go to the meeting and the VP goes on and on about what an impact on students I make on a daily basis. The evaluation is filed and we both feel good.

I like to think that I’m a good teacher, but if I’m doing this, aren’t the bad ones doing this too? I know of a teacher who is no longer at my school who did the same lesson for his evaluation, every two years for 20 years! It is a superficial look at what goes on in the classroom. Students and parents are almost never included in the evaluation process (at least in my district) – not that they should be a defining part of a teacher evaluation. I have seen through other blogs, the media, and even examples within my own district of teachers who aren’t good teachers, but get good evals. Then when some larger event occurs, they pull the personnel file and find years of perfect evaluations – making due process significantly more difficult. I do like that my union will fight for me, but it will fight for anyone – regardless of the offense.

It is obvious the system is flawed. Is merit pay the answer? Linking standardized test scores to pay? Eliminating tenure? My governor thinks the answer includes those items. My union doesn’t. Arnold is going way too far and getting into territory that will drive teachers from the profession and scare away prospective teachers. However, I’m glad that I’m at a good school and on track to finally teach honors classes.

5 thoughts on “Teacher Evaluations”

  1. I like merit pay as an idea, but in the field of teaching could this really be fairly orchestrated? I see a lot of potential for manipulation and coruption when it comes to merit pay.

    On the other hand, I do resent not being rewarded for my good work. I really don’t know what the answer is, but I am open to ideas about how merit pay could be enacted.

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  2. Dear Dan:

    Like you, I consider myself a good teacher, even to the extent that I would like to have principals–even parents–in my classroom as often as possible. But my principals–I suspect like many–are run so ragged by administrators doing paperwork of questionable value, that I’m lucky to see them, period.

    Merit pay? Handed out by principals who can only muster a visit every two years? And if the legislature decides not to fund your merit pay raise next session? Do you let your car, home, etc. go back to the bank? Is a pay raise that can be taken away at any time (and don’t bother to say that such raises will be sacred) a pay raise at all? One can also bet that many raises will be handed out to the winning football coach, the teacher to garners publicity, etc.

    Parents evaluating teachers? Their qualifications? This is particularly an issue when parents seem to be merely an occasional, ineffective influence in the lives of their children, to say nothing of the time they’d devote to their teacher evaluations duties.

    Be careful what you ask for Dan; you just might get it.

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  3. I did not mean to imply that I think merit pay is a good idea, in fact, I don’t think it can work – for the same reasons stated in the last comment. I just don’t think the evaluation system we have now is effective – especially for teachers who have already earned tenure. To this issue, I definitely have more questions then answers. I am also responding to a specific event which I can’t detail where good evals could have drawn out a bad situation.

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  4. Teacher evaluations in my school are done differently.

    Besides the lesson observations, a huge part of teacher evaluation hinges on the academic performance of the class. We have theoretical expectations of the class based on their past years’ performances. And for the teacher to score well, he or she needs to ensure that the class beats this expectation. Simple example; if in the previous year, the class gets an average grade of 65% for Math, and 20% of the students scored a distinction, then the teacher next year needs to maintain this standard at the very least.

    I was rather surprised when your teach evaluaton didn’t include this aspect. It would at least arrest the problem of below-average teachers getting a good review on their reports.

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