I just read an article titled Hurdles Emerge in Rising Effort to Rate Teachers. It seems that “emerge” is not the right word here. Most teachers have been talking about this current fad of rating teachers for years and we know that this current system of teacher rating is false at best, and mostly detrimental to individual teachers and school morale at worst. Study after study, it is shown that you cannot base teacher effectiveness on students’ “performance” in standardized tests.
But of course, a few people with corporate sponsors who have never taught in a public school have something else to say. For example, Rush Limbaugh said
Why can’t we publish the effectiveness of teachers? Athletes have their work scored every moment. Their work is on television. These people get ripped to shreds each and every day if they’re baseball or basketball players, every week if they’re football players. There are any number of people, CEOs, Big Oil executives, Big Pharmaceutical executives, BP executive, any number of people who not only have their work ripped to shreds, they get called up to testify before august Senate and congressional committees.
He’s right. These people DO get rated in one way or another. But how many of these people teach children in public schools? How many of these people earn public school teacher salary? (By the way, some think that the increasing gap between teacher salary and professional athlete salary is a good thing.) How many of these people call parents at home after dinner because their children are not performing well in class? How many of these people have learned that, just like anything else, experience really counts? How many of these people are judged on other people’s ability to take standardized tests? How many of these people know about differentiated instruction and how hard it is for teachers to implement this?
I try to have conversations about teaching and Klein-Duncan-Rhee style education reform with whomever is interested. But a lot of people, who are not in education, seem to really believe that corporate style management of public education is the key; ‘We need to fire everyone who’s bad at teaching. We need to gauge teacher effectiveness somehow, and yes, the first attempt at it, of course, has some hiccups, but you have to admit that this will make the education system better.’ Meanwhile, only the top 10 percent and the bottom 10 percent MAY be classified correctly in the new teacher rating system.
You know what? For those who thinks this is okay, I have a suggestion. I will grade YOUR performance at your job, and your job security and salary depend on it. However, I can maybe guarantee that I can only tell if you’re doing a “great” job, or a “really bad” job. For the rest of you, I’m going to come up with a number based on a very complicated statistical formula because that’s what I have. It’s probably totally wrong. The people who made up the formula said so. But you’ll need to live with the number, publicly. Oh, by the way, don’t try to protect your job by trying to collectively bargain. You will be eaten alive by the media. If you’re not happy with this arrangement, get your numbers up by focusing solely on the results and not care about HOW or WHY you’re doing your job. Because that doesn’t matter in the end. Only the unreliable results matter. And rest assured, my evaluation system will get better. What? Your livelihood is at stakes? No worries. CEOs and professional athletes are on the same precarious boat… except they are on a different boat… more like a cruise ship.