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Your View: Too Many Variables, Politics Make Teacher Evaluations Unfair

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How is performance to be measured? By test scores? By PVAAS? What if one classroom has a lopsided number of students with 504 plans or special education plans, and another classroom has a lopsided number of gifted students? How does one account for this?

Also, what if a community or a parent or guardian doesn’t value educational advancement the way those in another community might? What then? Are we going to scale those scores on a curve? What about this new evaluation strategy of grading teachers based upon attendance? A small percentage of the evaluation, but a criterion that is out of a classroom teacher’s control? What then? In the real world there are way too many variables that are out of a classroom teacher’s control to fairly and objectively evaluate individual performance.

This new evaluation system is nothing more than a politically motivated and unwarranted attack on the majority of competent educators who take their job seriously and do their collective best to educate students despite their upbringing, pre-conceived beliefs, and their environment at home. It’s about time that the folks in Harrisburg stop listening to people who most certainly have ulterior motives other than providing quality public education.

If the idea of a free and appropriate education was good enough for Ben Franklin, it then follows it should be good enough for all Americans. Unfortunately, the system has been under attack for reasons other than providing quality education. There is certainly a movement afoot that vilifies educators and paints all with a broad brush. As a result of the “new paradigm” that has been foisted upon public schools by people who either have spent very little or no time in a classroom, the freedom of the classroom teacher to decide what is best for each individual student has been compromised to say the very least.

Robert Case

President, Mars Area Education Association

Hi Robert,

Thanks for your comments and for your dedication to public education. Certainly teacher performance can and should be measured by test scores. We use test scores to evaluate our students after all, and if they’re relevant to the student’s performance, then certainly they are relevant to teacher performance. We wouldn’t simply issue students increasing grades based solely on time served, any more than we should award teachers in such a manner. It promotes complacency and sends a poor message about goals and expectations. And by the way, there are as many, if not more, real-world variables for students as there are for teachers, and yet subjectivity is a major factor in the grades students earn. It’s not a perfect system, but we recognize that it’s the best way to grade performance. The same is the case for educators.

I think what’s important in moving toward measuring performance is for districts to control what they can. Certainly the building administrator has control over the ratio of students with 504s, IEPs and other specialized instructional needs in each classroom. But that said, it should be noted that good teachers will appreciate these kinds of students because they present challenge, and the greatest potential for growth.

No system will be perfect. We can all agree to that, but it’s important that we move toward a system that promotes and rewards excellence–one in which well-designed performance pay can be beneficial to teachers and students alike.

Thanks again for sharing your views!

Best,
Vonne Andring
Former public school English teacher
Armstrong County

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