Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Waiting for Superman...part 1

I haven't seen it yet, so I'll keep this short. From everything I've seen so far about this new documentary that everyone talking about education is incessantly promoting, I can't help but feel like the anti-teacher establishment is getting ready to kick the union in the balls. That being said, I do plan to see this as soon as it arrives to a theater near me but people should consider the following when seeing this movie.

Teacher Evaluations
To say we should not have protections for bad teachers is an easy statement to make, but how do you determine what is or isn't a good teacher? For the last 10 years that has been almost entirely based upon student test scores on standardized tests. That is a terrible way to evaluate a teacher and provides almost no means to evaluate any teachers who do not teach math or language arts. Everyone should be in favor of rewarding "good" teachers and removing "bad" teachers but no one has been able to come up with a fair and decent way to make that judgement.

So long as we are basing teacher performance on students' standardized test scores, we create a disincentive for teachers to work together and learn from each other. Every teacher will be going after that performance based pay bonus and will be unwilling to share helpful advice with their fellow teachers. It is easy to attack the teacher's unions but it is much more difficult to come up with a better way to evaluate teacher performance.

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