Posted by: crudbasher | June 1, 2010

How Do We Evaluate Teachers?

I was following the #edchat conversation today on Twitter.  The question came up on how do you evaluate teachers and this got me thinking… Over the last few years there has been a big bruhaha about how improve education.  With No Child Left Behind, we created a national set of standardized tests.  At first I was for it, but having thought about it a bit more, I realized that this tied the hands of the teachers in a lot of cases.

Another controversial prospect is using these test results to then evaluate, and possibly get rid of, bad teachers.  I’m not sure how well this will work but, I do agree that teachers need to be evaluated.  In every industry, there has to be a way to evaluate if the desired results are being achieved.  There are however two distinct sectors of society, the public and private sides.

The public side’s purpose is usually to provide a service to society. The post office is a good example of this.  It is hugely inefficient compared to private companies such as Fed Ex, but that’s not the point.  The post office is a service that has to deliver mail to every place in the US.  This is does.  As long as it keeps doing this, everyone is happy.  Most importantly, mail is mail.  In other words the business model will work with all types of mail.  The post office deals with mail.  Amtrack deals with passengers.  The DMV deals with drivers.  The school system deals with students.  It makes sense. Education becomes a standardized product.

The private side has to reach out to consumers, and convince them to purchase their product or service.  The best companies succeed because the public gives them their business.  So the customer is the main determining factor in what business succeeds or fails.  Not only that, but new businesses are constantly being developed to try to cater to certain markets. If you want to buy something, there will be someone there to sell it to you.

Obviously, the school system is following the public model. Does that make sense?

In my ideal world all schools would be charter or private schools.  There would be no job security for teachers based on seniority.  Each parent in the US would be given a voucher to buy education for their child.  If they wanted to send them to a more private school it might cost them a bit more but they would be free to do it with their vouchers as a partial subsidy.  The government education monopoly would be over.  Parents would be able to shop around and find the right kind of educational environment for their kids.  Businesses would help create innovative schools because they can make money doing it.  I don’t have a problem with making a profit to educate kids.  I think profit motive is a great motivator.  Naturally some supervision would be required to make sure some standards are learned. Educators in these kind of schools would be motivated to help each other out and make their schools the best they can be so they can attract student. So you don’t evaluate the teachers individually, the market evaluates the school as a whole.

This is the type of revolution Ken Robinson is talking about I think. Can it happen?  The problem is the government monopoly part.  As long as people are locked into a school system and have no choice then it sucks up all the resources that could be devoted to innovation.

I think this kind of innovation will eventually happen, but it will happen in the developing world before it happens in the US.

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Responses

  1. I fully agree that there should be evaluation process in place for teachers. We have such a policy within the division and province I work in. There are mulitple processes and evaluations. First before teachers recieve their permanent teaching certificate/liscence we are evaluated by an individual from outside the school jurisdiction. Secondly teachers are evaluated before recieving their perm contracts. This I believe should be changed as we should be evaluated maybe every two to three years. Within the evaluation there are 11 specific topic areas with individual descriptors in each. I do however disagree with the education buisness model. Education should be available to all students at equal accessibility, university and post secondary should sort them out in other manners. A business model allows schools with the available rescoures to BUY the best teachers. Schools should be on the same playing feild allowing for all to have similar resources and allow children similar access. Image a school who’s primary investor is lets say Suncor and anothers primary is parents and the community. Who do you think will have the better, more equiped 21st century school. Then, you also open the door to the big buisness saying well we invest the money so we should have some say in the curriculum, because they want a return on their investment.
    I fully agree with evaluations and accountability,but be cautious of inviting or asking for a tiered education system that benefits those with money and those without. Education should be a universal opportunity for children not a financial accessibility for a select few, remember what the health care system looks like.

    • Hey Shawn thanks so much for your comment! You bring up some really good points which sparked some thinking. I agree completely with your initial thoughts where you said that teachers should be evaluated every few years. Of course one of the big tricks here is how do you evaluate a teacher?
      As for the rest of your post, perhaps I wasn’t very clear on my initial posting. What I would like to establish is a mechanism where the students and parents have the control over choosing which schools do well and which do not. By setting up a more private system, there would be competition which I think has been proven over the years to create better products. You had said you don’t want a tiered system but that is exactly what we have now. People who are wealthy can afford to pay school taxes and still send their kids to private school. What I want to do is redirect those school taxes to where the parents want. This would act as a subsidy for middle and lower income families to have other choices. I would be interested in knowing what your idea of equal accessibility for all students would look like. Could you elaborate a bit perhaps?

      Oh and one other thing, I know of no research that can directly tie funding with student performance. Over the last 10 years funding for Education has increased 40%. Has student performance increased by 40%? No. As long as we are hung up on the money, things won’t change. It’s not about the money, it about learning right?

  2. […] How Do We Evaluate Teachers? « Education Stormfront […]

  3. In Sweden we have this system, or kind of, since 1992. It´s called “skolpeng” school money and follows the student. So you can start a school (or first apply to get the permission to start) and then go for it. But I don’t know if it gets better teachers. Not out in the country anyway. Because It´s difficult in small tows to get enough students for two schools. To small market.
    But in bigger cities you have, both as a teacher and a student, better possibilities to choose school, private or public. For the students it doesn’t matter, it is no extra charge to go to a private school.
    When the system are evaluated it shows that the students in the private driven schools have better results, but it´s not clear if it´s the schools teacher´s that are better or if the result is due to the fact that the parents to the kids that send their kids to private schools are more interested in education and want their kids to have the best possible school. A third reason to the better result could be that it´s an advantage to have good results when you recruit new students. It´s shows that the school is good. So maybe the teachers choose the higher grade if the students results are in between. But probably the better results are a mix of all these reasons, as it often is.

    • Hey Pontus, great comment very informative! I have not heard of skolpeng. I will definitely do some research on it! I agree that right now it is hard to do definative research on this issue because there are a lot of variables to account for. That is why I encourage many different approaches to education. Right now in the US we have only one government system. There is some innovation on the fringes, but it is really hard to spread to the rest of the system. By giving the parents the money, they will be able to encourage the innovative elements better.

      Thanks so much for commenting!!!

  4. […] motivation for this post comes from a blog post  I read today, How to evaluate teachers? and its relation to the book I’m reading this week Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich. […]


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