Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pay for Performance Destruction

A brilliant piece that exposes what teaching and learning is all about by Jamiaca HS teacher JB McGeever in the City Limits. Delving into the kind of choice teachers face when test scores are used to evaluate their work, it is an impressive expression of the destructive impact merit pay schemes have on the teaching/learning process.

3 comments:

  1. So if test scores shouldn't be used to evaluate educators, and you hate the idea of paying school inspectors, what should be used?

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  2. Why stop at test scores? How about rating them based on attendance? After all, it they can't get s sick kid to want to fight his way to school or get someone to stop playing hookey, the teaching must not be scintillating enough.

    How about the hygiene of the kids?
    When I was in school the teacher used to inspect us and send notes home if we smelled.

    I like the idea of independent people (maybe from colleges, from the current teaching crop, other areas?) to evaluate teachers. How about seeing them teach?

    Didn't you come through a school that did it that way?

    You're supposedly a teacher, why not share your students' test scores and attendance with us? Then we can rate you as a teacher without ever seeing you teach. Hell, maybe you'r on to something. Get rid of observations and just use the test scores. I bet that teacher reading the paper next door to you will figure otu a way to do ok.

    We had a teacher who used to take a day off if she saw a snow flake - absent 1/3 of the time. The principal praised her to the sky for her very high test scores -- she got the top class every year as a reward.

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  3. I'm not suggesting we use test scores. I'm also not suggesting we evaluate teachers without watching them teach. You are the one who has railed against all form of evaluation but offers no alternative. That's why I asked.

    I'd be fine adding attendance and even hygiene to a teacher's evaluation - why not? My kids' attendance rate is north of 95%. That is not standard in my school, but it's probably standard for good teachers.

    As far as teacher evaluations go, you claim you like the idea of observing teachers, but when Klein tries to hire someone to do so (Cambridge Education Associates), you say it's a waste of money. Do you expect to find a free evaluation system?

    We have those same teachers who get high test scores despite poor teaching. They do so by getting the top classes, as you point out. That's why I'd never propose evaluating teachers just on test scores. If test scores are used (and I think they should be one of many measures), they should be evaluated based on growth, not absolute end-of-year scores. Then I think teachers should be observed by independent evaluators at least once a year as part of a whole-school evaluation the results of which the principal is held responsible. By adding both subjective and objective evaluation by as independent an evaluator as possible, I think most of the objections to evaluation are pretty easily overcome.

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