Comments for: The right ways to assess teachers

Posted Sept. 23, 2012, at 6:27 a.m.

Teacher collaboration and using tests for diagnostic, rather than evaluative, purposes produce better outcomes

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  • Anonymous

    Very good editorial.  Indeed, all the teachers unions have offered collaborative based and comprehensive plans for improving schools via methods that have actually PROVEN to work, and not through flavors of the month and unproven ideas like charter schools, merit pay, and evaluations based very heavily on standardized test scores.  Teachers and good administrators know that the best schools are well managed with structure and a culture of hard work, discipline, and high expectations throughout the school building, and a school building that is clean and in good repair.  They know that what works is solid practices in instruction from pre-K up.  They know that sufficient resources, decent pay (not merit pay), and enough actual time to properly plan, teach, assess, and record-keep is needed.  They know that sufficient support personnel to help struggling learners and those with identified learning issues works.  They know that smaller class sizes with enough time to help struggling learners works.  They know that built-in interventions and enough time and personnel for identified struggling learners works.  They know that offering things to say yes to like good extracurricuars work.  They know that high behavioral expectations and certain consequences for misbehavior works.  They know that teachers and administrators working TOGETHER is what works and that decent and reasonable working conditions for teachers is what works.  They know that good evaluations are based on a variety of factors and can’t just be based on standardized test scores, alhough it is ok to have that be part of the mix, but just one part.  Many teachers have MANY students, and can’t be held responsible for all the factors that influence a kid’s performance on tests.  Student cohorts change from year to year with test scores up and down.  Teachers and good administrators also know that expectations must be doable and reasonable.  They know that MOST factors that influence a student’s performance occur OUTSIDE the school (such as home stability, natural cognitive capabilities, expectations at home, values at home, diet, sleep, parent support, etc.) so good schools do work as hard as they can to partner with parents.   Parents and kids NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY TOO !!!  Enough of this just bashing the teachers and administrators.  ENOUGH.  Especially among conservatives who always talk about PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.  So what about the responsibilities of the parent and the kid?  Do they have ANY at all anymore?  YES THEY DO !  And it is about time we said so, loud and clear.  If you evaluate teachers based only on standardized test scores, you will just be always training kids to pass tests which is not a real education, and you will drive people right away from the profession.  Most teachers are highly dedicated and are good practitioners.  Yes, evaluations need to be good enough to weed out the few bad apples, as in ANY profession, but we know what works.  And we do not need merit pay, charter schools, vouchers, and all these other SCHEMES.  There are thousands of public schools all over the country and right here in Bangor and Maine that do very very well and we need to build on what we know works and not these schemes.  Kids are not widgets that just need to be “fixed” with better “technicians”.  It is very complex, and anyone who wants to bash teachers can spend a few days teaching in a classroom and then try to mouth away about how easy it is.  It is not.  It is very challenging work, and people need to get into reality.

    • Anonymous

      Well said.  After spending more than 35 years teaching in a public elementary school,  I agree completely with your opinion.

  • Anonymous

    Teachers ought to be able to assess the Admin. and pay them accordingly 

    • LD1858, which became law earlier this year, added principals to teachers that will need to receive a performance evaluation.

  • Anonymous

    I see that their pension will be going broke soon, they pay out more than they take in..

    • Anonymous

      What is your point??

      • Anonymous

        The point is that their pension is going to dry up…

    • Anonymous

      That’s because for the past SIXTY YEARS, the state has FAILED to pay it’s share into the pension fund and in the last legislative session voted to reduce the amount the state pays in going forward (while increasing the teacher contribution) without the state PAYING IN ANY OF THE PAST DUE AMOUNTS. Thanks to Bruce Poliquin.

  • Anonymous

    I do not know where Mr. Meyerson is from and his opinion may be more meaningful there, but in Maine, teachers have little to no legally-enforceable influence on educational policies within their schools (buildings or systems).  Educational policy topics are not negotiable as they are in other states and teachers do not have the right to strike.  So, collaboration sounds lovely, but one change in school board/committee, superintendent or principal and it all goes away – without any way for the teachers who have put hours, days, week and years into developing good models to do much of anything about it.  Change the law (26 MRSA 965) and we’ll talk.

    • An example of this is occurring at the elementary school where my two sons attend, where the principal has installed an intensive literacy program, apparently at the expense of other subjects. Those that will actually have to teach the system were not consulted about the practical impact on their classrooms.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve said this so many times I’m sure people are sick of hearing it. A teacher’s job is TO TEACH; a student’s job is TO LEARN. Evaluating teachers on whether students do THEIR job or not makes ZERO SENSE on any level unless your goal is to punish and harass teachers. Evaluating a teacher on student performance is like evaluating a doctor on whether or not his patients lose weight, quit smoking or excessively drinking; it’s like evaluating a policeman on the amount of crime that exists or firemen on how many fires there are or how may homes they save. Those who want teachers to be held accountable for student learning also want almost all contractual protections removed from teaching contracts. They claim that the “real world” operates that way and if an employee doesn’t do what they are supposed to, they get fired. Then if those people want teaching to be more like the “real world” if the students don’t learn, then the teachers should be able to FIRE THEM! Teachers have to deal with all students-the math teacher has to teach the mathematically challenged (“he’s not a math person”), the science teacher has to teach the scientifically challenged and so on; teachers have to deal with students who don’t want to be in school, who would rather be hanging out with their friends or playing video games, or whatever distraction is at the top of their list and too many parents enable their kids to skirt their educational responsibilities. When parents and students are held accountable for learning then, and only then, will there be true progress in education.

  • Anonymous

    What a teacher makes, or what their benefits package is should not determine how well a child learns, but listening to all of the teacher unions that is what they imply.

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