Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The "tell me how good you are" method of evaluation

You know what? In my experience, principals and superintendents are evaluated only on what they themselves tell their immediate superiors.

Yeah - you heard that right. What the principal tells the superintendent about what is happening in the school is how that principal is evaluated. How'd you like that system at your job? There's no feedback loop from employees, anyone who works with them, parents in the community who have dealt with them. Just what they tell their boss. HA!

And they think teachers need a new system!

A good leader is not afraid to ask, "How am I doing?" Why do so few do it?

In political circles, there is a growing pressure to evaluate teachers based on students test scores. In some ways, the so-called "Race to the Top" grant program is the Obama administration's method to extort state education agencies to move in that direction, and use what some call "merit pay" systems based on those test scores

Unfortunately for proponents of such methods, education isn't that simple. Because humans aren't that simple.

Let's draw an analogy. Let's evaluate dentists solely on the basis of how many cavities their patients have. Let's not factor in whether the patient grew up with flouride in the water, whether that patient's parents taught them the importance of brushing and saw to it happening, or even whether or not the patient showed up for regular dental appointments.

Would you really have an accurate picture of the effectiveness of that dentist? Or would it likely be a better picture of the effectiveness of those parents and what their priorities were?

There's the problem. There's more to evaluating students than a paper and pencil test given over hours, and there's more to evaluating teachers than how well their kids do on those tests.

Which is why I think it is important for teachers to be part of the process of developing better evaluation - authentic assessment - for students and for themselves.

And why I think everyone needs to sit at the same table to come up with a new system. For everyone.

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Posted via email from suedensmore's posterous

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