Failed: A Story of Teacher Evaluation
Related: Teacher Shortage Crisis Results in Parents Demanding Teacher Pay Boost
Peter Greene writes in Forbes about new research showing the unsurprising failure of high-stakes teacher evaluation. As Greene notes, the idea was that the core problem with education was that teachers simply weren’t being adequately evaluated. If only, policymakers reasoned, there was a way to tie teaching to important metrics (like test scores) in a reliable way, then we could actually IMPROVE teaching and/or weed out the “bad” teachers.
While teachers have historically asked for things like smaller class sizes and more support for students (nurses, social workers, ELL instruction/support, etc.), policymakers just KNEW that it was the lack of a fair evaluation system that was the core problem.
Notice that teachers were not suggesting better pay - that’s often lower on the list of concerns teachers mention. However, the law of supply and demand might indicate that better pay is also a part of the equation.
Anyway, here’s some of what Greene has to say about the spectacular failure of No Child Left Behind/Race to the Top teacher evaluation.
A working paper just issued by five researchers concludes that the “massive effort to institute new high-stakes teacher evaluation systems,” had essentially no effect on “student achievement.”
The term “student achievement” was thrown around a lot, but all it ever actually meant was “test scores.” Therefore, in the classrooms where these policies lurched to life, “improve student achievement” really meant “raise test scores.” Linking that to teacher evaluation sent a clear message to teachers: we don’t care what else you do, because your job is now defined as “raise test scores on this one test.”
Meanwhile, as is often the case, public education was about a decade behind private industry. The test-linked teacher evaluation system was a form of stack ranking, where employees are rated, stacked in order of rating, and then the bottom chunk are fired. Microsoft jettisoned that system in 2013, saying it blocked teamwork and innovation (don’t take chances that might hurt your ranking, and don’t help someone because that might just move them ahead of you). By the late 2010s, education was one of the few places left where people were still claiming you could fire your way to excellence.
The TN Poverty Test – Tennessee Education Report (tnedreport.com)
MORE from Greene on teacher evaluation >
While the failed teacher evaluation craze may help explain the exodus from the teaching profession, another challenge is teacher compensation. In one Tennessee county (the wealthiest in the state, as it happens), a parent group focused on public schools is demanding a significant boost in teacher pay.
· URGENT: We’re hearing multiple reports of a massive teacher/staff exodus from WCS.
YOU have the power to fix this. If you can’t be loud for this, don’t complain when your kid’s teacher doesn’t show up on Jan. 5th. What did you do to advocate for them? Starbucks and Target gift cards 1-2 times a year aren’t going to cut it.
Do you know your county commissioners’ names? You should. They approve the budget that pays for your children’s school staff salaries. (PS They also get “free” health insurance for a *very* part-time job, which is rich when our teachers have had their benefits cut short.)
If you’re a WCS parent, you know all about the staffing shortages in our schools this year. Many kids don’t have a science teacher, math, foreign language, special ed, etc. – and they can’t find enough subs to cover every day. Cafeteria workers, bus drivers, SACC workers, the things we’ve all gotten numb to hearing about because we think it’s normal to not have them in place.
It is *not normal* to ask parents to work the school lunch lines serving food.
At the same time, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is proposing changes to the state’s school funding formula but has stopped short of promising more money for schools. A Nashville-based community group is raising concerns about this approach:
Currently, Tennessee ranks 46th nationally in education spending. Sadly, we spend more to incarcerate adults than we do to educate our children. At the Dec. 6th Town Hall, NOAH will be outlining the need for MORE FUNDING for:
• Classroom Technology, a need across the state.
• Lower Student/Teacher Ratios, recognized nationally as improving student learning.
• Professional Development for Teachers, so teachers can teach a wide range of students and address student needs with the best available training.
• Social Worker, School Counselor, and Nurse ratios that mirror national recommendations, which will support health and safety and reduce suspensions.
• The specific needs of low-income students, English learners, and students with disabilities. We must not simply “re-slice” the funding pie. Tennessee has a $2 billion surplus – yet we are starving our school systems!