Thursday, January 26, 2012

On Evaluating Teachers in a Fair and Positive Fashion

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First I would insist on a truly representative sample of the teacher's teaching performance.

Then I would have an initial judging done by three teachers, who teach populations of similar socio-economic backgrounds, located at least 2 or more school districts away from the teacher being judged [the judgee] district.

I would have the results of the initial judging reviewed by 3 professional judges, teachers already rated excellent, on leave for a year of judging, who rate the teacher in 10 to 20 areas, on numerical scales.  There would be an overall rating and recommendations for areas where improvement is needed, and suggestions as to how to go about making such improvements.   These judges might not necessarily teach kids of the same socio-economic background, but could not, all three,  share just one socio-economic teaching population background.

The evaluation would be done in the second semester of teaching.  The results would come back to the teacher, no penalties, but a clear indication of how well they are doing, referenced to other teachers.  In the second year, the classroom would again be rated, but this time, those rating 3 standard deviations to the low side would be let go in June.  Those 2 standard deviations below would get a warning, and would be tested again in their third year, unlike the rest, who get a pass until year 5.

50% of teachers self select to quit on their own, within five years of starting teaching. 

How to capture a truly representative sample of a teacher's performance?

Closed circuit surveillance systems are readily available to handle multiple cameras and multiple sound tracks, wirelessly, recording full fidelity images and sound, such that the viewer can choose which camera to watch and which mic to listen to.  A rig, cameras and software, mics and computers, can be had for under $2,000.  The teacher works with a tech to set up his classroom for optimum recordings.  Dummy versions of the gear can be placed initially to get the kids through their initial curious and screwup phases.  Then the teacher records up to ten days worth of teaching over a three week span, max.  The teacher can then edit out 20% of the material recorded.  If the teacher can get what he feels is necessary in 5 days, so much the better.  Three weeks is more than enough time to get a representative sample.

The teacher can then pick out 3, 20 minute sections that he feels represents good teaching.  A computer will pick out 7 more 20 minute blocks at random.  The three initial evaluators will thoroughly review the teacher's choices, and can skim or closely review the computer choices, and will need to write up and evaluation of each of the teacher choices, and 4 of the computer choices.

All of this information is passed on to the Pro judges, who review the materials and video, alone, and come up with independent ratings and suggestions.  Then they meet as a group, and assign one final set of ratings and an overall rating.  The teacher [judgee] gets to see both sets of ratings, and all recommendations.

This would not be cheap to do, but it would be far more accurate than letting school politics be the real determiner, or all mighty test scores, which tell very little about a teacher, especially in a school with disadvantaged kids.

I think all CEO's salaries should be compared to those of the occupations you list, as well as teachers. As for teachers themselves, shouldn't those 2 standard deviations above the average be as well paid as a beginning graduate from a technical school? Normally it take 20 years to get up to $60,000, like these graduates start with.
What a thrill as a first year teacher to get that kind of boost, for your second year. And for those that score only 1 standard deviation up from the norm, let them jump to year ten on the local scale. That's what I would call rewarding teachers. How about you? "A Golden Brass Apple, how nice....I think I'll try law school next. This teaching job can pay my tuition, and guess where I'll pay my attentions..." (you did want to know where "bad" teachers came from, didn't you?)

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