And all of the teachers are effective…
Remember Lake Woebegone, that wonderful place where the men are strong, the women good looking and all of the children smart? Now we do not need to travel to any fictitious place. It seems that right here, in our very own country, all of the teachers are doing such a great job.
Principals overwhelmingly rate teachers as being effective. In 2009, principals rated fewer than 1% of classroom teachers as ineffective. In a most recent survey only New Mexico identified 30% of its teachers as needing improvement and 6% as ineffective. Maryland principals rated about 5% of teachers as ineffective but no one as needing improvement. Is it no wonder that politicians and the general public want teacher ratings to default to using test scores. For years, teachers’ unions have insisted that ratings by principals would invite political interference and principals would punish teachers with low rating if they did not like the teacher or to intimidate the teacher to “go along”. Seems like those fears had not much basis in fact.
Surely, principals do not live in Lake Woebegone, nor could they possible think that almost all of their teachers were effective. So what is going on here?
Multiple reasons are advanced by principals for the high ratings. What is very interesting is that none of the reasons cite teacher quality for the absence of ineffective ratings.
One of the reasons principals won’t give low ratings to teachers is because they do not want the teachers to dislike them. They want good relations with the staff. It appears that Neville Chamberlin is not the only appeaser-in-chief.
Secondly principals have said the stakes are too high. Teachers could lose their jobs or receive less compensation from a poor rating. They do not want to be responsible for that happening.
Secondly, unions have written a long and complicated procedure before any teacher can be given a poor rating. There needs to be a great deal of documentation and, in the end, the teacher can say the principal was biased and ask for a transfer and so the dance starts again. Most principals just don’t think the juice is worth the squeeze.
When researchers asked principals what the teacher ratings would be if the teachers would not know who did the rating, the answers were that the ratings would be much lower.
There continues to be a huge disconnect between what principals say about teachers privately and what they put in a formal review.
Is it any wonder that there has been that very strong push to link teacher evaluations with test scores?
In the end who suffers? Clearly it is the student. Ineffective teachers keep being ineffective and receiving pay raises for living another year and staying in their jobs. Principals avoid the aggravation of having to be made uncomfortable in truthful evaluation, students be damned.
It is the students who continue to have ineffective teachers because the people who are paid to do something about that won’t and the unions are in full force to protect the weakest among the membership.
Since it is the students who suffer the most, why not make them in charge. They may be more fair and honest than the foxes guarding the school house. Couldn’t be much worse. Welcome to Lake Woebegone, where are the teachers are highly effective and the kids are smart enough to do the rating.