New teacher evaluations: Do they truly evaluate what matters? Our district, like many others across the state and the nation is facing the challenge of evaluating teachers on their classroom teaching practice, as well as, student achievement. As I observe instruction and meet with teachers, I see confusion. Teachers who are questioning their practice, their instructional decisions, their beliefs in an effort not to impact student learning, but to increase test scores.
This concerns me. I am not sure what concerns me more: That teachers are being pushed to the dark side and use data only to drive instruction or that teachers are compromising their teaching “core” and questioning whether they should be teaching to the test or teaching to the needs of the students. At my school we use data to inform our instruction. We look at different layers of data and identify student strengths and weaknesses. Even with these structures in place, I am worried. With a percentage of each teacher’s evaluation tied to student achievement data, I see district personnel, principals and teachers looking only at the numbers. Or worse yet, looking at only one number or one test. I know this has been long in coming, but when did we loose sight of the whole child and what is best for students and learning?
So, what if student input was a component of determining teacher effectiveness? I recently read an article, “The View from the Seats,” by Tracy Crow in the December 2011 issue of Learning Forward’s JSD. The research discussed in this article puts more emphasize on student input. Which makes sense, after all, are students not the consumers of our teaching? This makes me think of the teacher who gets good results as measured by state tests, however, they are not a “good” teacher. We all know that teacher, that “rolls the ball out” so to speak and gets adequate results, but when you ask them about their students or to reflect on their teaching practice, they look puzzled. So would student input help to better evaluate the effectiveness of this teacher?
The research indicated student input was gathered through surveys including the following questions:
1. CARE: My teacher in this class makes me feel that he or she really cares about me.
2. CONTROL: Our class stays busy and doesn’t waste time.
3. CLARIFY: My teacher explains difficult things clearly.
4. CHALLENGE: My teacher wants me to explain my answers-why I think what I think.
5. CAPTIVATE: My teacher makes learning enjoyable.
6. CONFER: My teacher wants us to share our thoughts.
7. CONSOLIDATE: My teacher takes the time to summarize what we learn each day.
Could this survey assist in the teacher evaluation process? What are your thoughts?