Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Teacher evaluations, new research

eSchool online sends me weekly emails about school reform and technology integration. This week's included this paragraph:
Some states are at risk of losing their Race to the Top funding because they've been forced to delay plans to implement proposed reforms; and a new study indicates that evaluating classroom teachers just once a year will not help teachers to improve.
I'm thinking that delaying some of that reform might well be a good thing in the long run since RttT overly promotes merit pay and other bogus "incentives", weird ideas about testing and technophiliac waste.

Then I get to the second part and I'm struck by the emphasis that evaluating "just once a year" will not help teachers improve, implying that it ought to be several times per year.  I actually believe the study, but coupled with what I've seen in the past thirty years or so, "one evaluation won't help a teacher improve" because evaluations don't do much and repetitions of nothing are still nothing. I've had good principals who gave good evaluations that really were helpful but I've had many, many more that were useless.

Overall, the study seems typical of education research and education reporting.

Bottom line for me is that if they found that multiple evaluations each year were beneficial, they'd have said so. Since they didn't say that (and they would dearly LOVE to say that), then it can be assumed that they found no evidence so they fudged the report and let the reader assume.

I'm glad I use Thunderbird for my email, though, because it warned me about this email.  Thinks it's a scam.

Smart program.

1 comment:

  1. The best evaluations I've had have come from other people in my department. Or lower level principals who once taught my subject. Teachers who are currently in the classroom, experiencing what you are experiencing have actual suggestions based on the student population, topic you are teaching, etc.

    At my current school we are evaluated once a month, but it is not really helpful. The same suggestions are given to every teacher in the department each month, because that month has a focus. September was about RBIS's so we all had goals about that, October was about team teaching, so we had goals about teaming differently and so on.

    All the idea of merit and incentive pay, to me, doesn't fit in with what schools are supposed to be. Giving people autonomy and trust to do the thing they love is a reward. The students they see succeed despite difficulties is a reward. The idea that a principal or test will decide if I earn additional pay doesn't sit well with me.

    My friend is studying to be a principal and he said, how hard would it be for principals who came up in their districts and are close with faculty to decline to provide merit pay, based on random principles, to teachers they know needed money? Worst of all, I think it would mean less sharing of ideas and resources because you would want to keep them all for yourself so you could reap the benefits.