Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, January 28, 2011

New Teacher Evaluation System Unwritten, But Still Go Into Effect

The Tennessean reports that a new evaluation system of teachers in the state of Tennessee is a mess, yet it will STILL be going into effect in six months and teachers WILL BE FIRED using this system:

A new teacher evaluation system is set to kick in across the state in six months, even though parts of it haven't been written and principals haven't been trained how to use it.

Tennessee's legislature passed it a year ago as part of an education reform initiative that secured $500 million in federal Race to the Top grant money.

Critics said the old evaluation system, which monitored most tenured teachers once every five years, left too many ineffective teachers in the classroom too long, was vague and largely didn't help teachers improve. The new system will judge teachers and principals using student learning gains — called value-added scores — along with a prescribed checklist to determine their placement, pay and, ultimately, whether they will keep their jobs.

Forty-nine schools across the state, including some in Sumner County and Metro Nashville, are field-testing parts of the new system. But with many specifics still undecided, state officials say they hope educators will be patient.

"I'm sure there are some across the state who have expressed concern, but we're focused on getting this done," said Patrick Smith, acting education commissioner.

Fifty percent of teachers' evaluations will be based on student achievement. Of that, 35 percent is their classes' value-added scores, taken from students' standardized testing. The remaining 15 percent is a measure the school chooses, such as the graduation rate or something from a list of other options the state is expected to adopt in the coming weeks.

"This is not a way to point fingers at anyone, but the intention is to provide helping hands to drive instruction," Smith said.

The other 50 percent will come from a principal's classroom observation, but the state has yet to choose which observation model it will use.

Come on teachers, be patient.

Sure the system isn't finished yet and sure the margin of error on those value-added measurements are 12%-35% and sure you'll be fired if you aren't rated well in this system - but you have to be patient with us.

We're working as hard as we can to find a way to scapegoat you and fire you at will.

With the help of corporate-friendly politicians like Barack Obama and Lamar Alexander, we have the mechanism to do so in the state of Tennessee (and elsewhere - like New York!)

Now just give us a chance to get the system right - and by right, we mean so complex and screwy that we can essentially declare every teacher a "bad teacher" and fire all your asses, close down all the schools and turn everything over to for-profit education companies.

Cheap way to run the government when there is no public education system to pay for.

So be patient, folks - this isn't about making education better, this is about making sure we can use these uncertain times in the economy to destroy the public education system, teachers unions and government employees and turn all public education over to our for-profit cronies.

And education "reform" sure is one terrific way to do just that.


  1. I'm sure Bloomie would want the same to get rid of those expensive senior teachers.

  2. Any evaluation system must be based on objective data, including teacher evaluations. Systems that use student scores as the primary data will identify a problem, but not the cause. Systems that ignore student scores may be rewarding/punishing actions without knowing their effectiveness. Classroom observations are a critical component in an entire system.

    There are three types of observation data that are/can be recorded: Descriptive, Inferential, and Evaluative.

    Descriptive data is a record of the duration or frequency of teaching practices and related student behaviors in the classroom.

    Inferential data is a summary of the practices or behaviors based on the descriptive data. Unfortunately, many observation systems have observers check summary indicators without collecting the descriptive data to support them.

    Evaluation data is a judgment of the quality of the teaching practice or student academic behaviors. Very frequently, this is the 'teacher evaluation' form used by districts and states as the record of an observation. The problem is that an evaluation must be based on summary data which is based on descriptive data - which is rarely collected. The result is an invalid and unreliable assessment, and the cause of great conflict, misdirection of corrective efforts, and a hugh waste of professional development funds.

    Technology can easily provide the support needed to collect all the needed data. After 30 years in the Education profession, I wrote a software program to make the collection of all three types of observation data easy. Here's a link to a 3 minute video about it:

    Focused observations to gather objective data provide both the teacher and administrators with the knowledge they need to identify specific needs, measure change, and make those required judgments of quality. In the end, the students are the ones who benefit the most.


  3. I agree with John. If schools are going to use a teacher evaluation or a classroom walkthrough, they need to be done well. If not, the results and data are invalid and not usable.