My contribution to the NY Times Sunday Dialogue on how to evaluate teachers.
Published in the New York Times, March 18, 2012
Dr. Yatvin’s suggestions for teacher evaluation are excellent. But why are the Times and many others suddenly interested in teacher evaluation?
It is because of the belief that poor teaching is the reason American schools are failing. The perception that our schools are failing, however, is based only on American students’ international test scores. Rarely mentioned is the finding that middle-class American students in well-funded schools score at the top of the world on these tests; our overall scores are unspectacular because we have the highest percentage of children living in poverty among all industrialized countries.
The problem is thus not teacher quality. The problem is poverty, which means poor diet, poor health care, and little access to books. Quality teaching has little effect when students are hungry, sick, and have nothing to read.
Let’s improve teacher evaluation, but there is no evidence that there is a teaching crisis in the US.