Yesterday’s article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer was titled Teachers’ Seniority Rights Under Assault in Cleveland, Across Nation. The article highlights the growing battle over seniority provisions in collective bargaining agreements that favor more experienced teachers over newer ones, regardless of educator quality.
Cleveland Teachers Union leaders say that they “fear giving too much authority to principals who might make unjust, arbitrary decisions, or tying their futures to test scores that urban districts struggle to raise.”
Similarly, Thomas Ash at the Buckeye Association of School Administrators believes that standardized tests and “potentially subjective appraisals” are not reliable measures of performance. Instead, he favors traditional teacher seniority provisions because they’re “a nice, objective measure.”
Really? There’s absolutely no way that we as educators can come up with better indicators of teacher quality than seniority? We can’t use either “objective” student achievement data OR “subjective” appraisals by educators (or a blend of these plus maybe some other measures too)? What else is there? Is the intersection of no student outcome data AND no evaluative appraisals an empty set?
I don’t think I’m willing to allow P-12 educators to essentially say they’re unevaluable, and I don’t think the American public is either. It’s this kind of thinking and verbiage that gets in the way of needed progress and essentially cements the reputation of American schools as hidebound institutions incapable of making necessary change.
Stick a fork in the system; yet another sign that it’s done?
Photo credit: Duel
Why do we teachers have to come up with the evaluation method? Isn’t that the state’s job? So great, they come up with test scores as the end-all measure. Dumb idea. And doesn’t address “electives” teachers. We call B.S., and then YOU say WE need to come up with a better method? No, my friend, THEY need to come up with a better method.
If we don’t at least sit down at the table for the discussion of what a new evaluation would like, some will make the decision for us…and its coming. Same thing applies for the future of compensation. Either we get engaged in the discussion, or a politician who knows nothing or some Teach for America alum who thinks they know better will jam it down our throat.
A good teacher is not afraid of an evaluation of any kind. A good principal could do good evaluations. No one should be secure and complacent in their job because they were the first one hired.
Amen…”last hired, first fired” policies are robbing kids of great teachers. I’ve worked under two principals on one tech director in 7 years. I’ve never once worried about being unfairly treated by an administrator…but maybe I’ve been lucky?!?
The problem isn’t that there is no way to evaluate teachers. The problem is that all the really good ways (read: equitable) take time and money, and so districts and states/provinces cheap out and use the snapshot tests or once-in-a-blue-moon admin visits (I honestly cannot recall the last time I was evaluated in my classroom) as their solution.
Ian has it exactly right. The gulf is not between what’s possible or impossible, but rather what’s considered affordable.
A group of us in California have attempted to improve the quality of the debate – and stave off worst-case evaluations based on state tests – by publishing a policy report on evaluation.
I’m not sure what the answer is but I just finished reading Catching up or Leading the way by Yong Zhao and it has changed the way I’ve been thinking a bit. The move toward more rigor is misplaced. There can be no doubt we need change, but that must by systemic change that includes teachers and policy makers and everyone ought to be accountable. We don’t need anymore finger pointing. Instead we need to come together for our common good and realize that the way forward lies not in more of the same of anything including NCLB. Teachers should be accountable but not scapegoated either.
I think I might be in the minority on this issue but I don’t think any teacher should feel safe in their job. As soon as we feel safe we stop improving or at least lose a lot of the fire to improve. I teach in a private school and get a one-year, non-binding contract every year. I like that because I must add value every year or I might not be asked back next year. We started student surveys last year and they are starting to become a part of teacher evaluations. If 90% of students say a teacher did not teach them well or the comments are routinely negative, the teacher will be asked to improve or leave.
I’ve struggled with this myself over my career. How are we to be judged? Perhaps the public should not be the judges in a province such as Alberta, where education is not highly valued, and teachers less so. Perhaps provincial government is not equipped, as they are concerned more with statistics than they are the individuals who provide education. Our professional association alone would not be objective enough to evaluate us. Perhaps a panel of selected officials from the public, government, and professional associations would be able to evaluate in the interest of all stakeholders, and provide a balanced assessment of educators?
From a story on the same topic from NPR:
“[David] Quolke [,president of the Cleveland Teachers Union,] says there is a good reason to stick with seniority. Without an objective criterion for judging teachers, he says the game would be totally rigged in favor of younger, less expensive teachers.” http://n.pr/aIwvrn
This is insulting to the good work that graduate leadership programs do to prepare new school leaders and reveals Mr. Quolke as wholly ignorant in matters of teacher evaluation.
Should we reward teachers for their experience? Yes, that is what a pay scale does. Should they be rewarded with lifelong contracts, no. It is the minority, but some teachers do coast into retirement. The system must have something in place to prevent this.
My answer would be to make teachers work transparent. Teachers should be required to create digital portfolios that show their goals, student work and data proving the accomplishment of these goals. If organized properly, this could lead to increased collaboration and idea sharing. What are the downfalls of evaluating teachers this way?
What’s wrong in evaluating teachers. This could be done through the students. The students are the best judges.If you are a good teacher why should you hesitate to get the valuable inputs from the right persons? This method is already adopted by the institutions covered under ISO 9001
Teachers should be evaluated. According to me it is pleasure for good teachers. If any criticisims are given as inputs they must be corrected. We need not hesitate for that. Students are the best judges for evaluating the teachers as they are focussed and unbiased.