Teacher Evaluation and Even Playing Fields

The public school education around the country had been in a process of stock taking in the face of failing student and school performances. One would assume that draconian measures from the grassroots are expected. But, somehow political leaders, so-called educational pundits, and Union leaders have  come to an agreement to put all their eggs in the same basket. When the public hue and cry became strident, a scapegoat was found as the source of all educational problems: The Teacher.

Anyone with any normal experience must have realized that there have always been great teachers, good teachers, mediocre teachers, poor teachers, and bad teachers. This variation takes place in any profession and we have all passed through the whole gamut during our years of education. But, to decide that the answer to all our problems is a largely test score based teacher evaluation is too simplistic a solution.

How are the test scores determining teacher performances? Are the test scores collected in even playing fields?

Anyone who has worked in the public school system must know that the assignment of courses and students to different teachers, at times, is political. There is a pecking order created by internal politics. All students are not of equal ability level of learning. All courses are not favored by most students. There are some intrinsic issues that deter student performances. The class sizes and behavioral issues of students of each course are very relevant in this juncture. The societal values and home environments affect motivation for learning. There are so many variables involved in student performances that to single out one element as the crucial point is a shortsighted determination. Are all teachers going to be assigned above average, average, and below average levels of classes? How else is the test score used as the measuring rod in teacher evaluation in an equitable manner?

The constant testing takes away the students from learning because the curriculums end up being diluted to create time for test “preparation”. The integrity of the learning process is thus compromised and learning itself takes a back seat.

Education is a human enterprise. It is not manufactured in a factory. There is no quality control of the raw material entering the schools. There are no efficiency experts to determine management quality.

It is important to evaluate everyone in the various levels of the educational process. The goal of everyone – the school boards, the administrators, parents, teachers, and students – should be one: the education of the young. A society is valued by the way it nurtures its young.

The administration should make every effort to evaluate teachers qualitatively and quantitatively. They should also make sure that they hire teachers who are experts in their fields and not those who are only marginally ahead of their students. Both administrators and teachers along with the society must begin to consider teaching as a profession, not labor.

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