"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The obsession with teacher evaluation

The obsession with teacher evaluation
Sent to the Seattle Times, January 9

The publicity given to the latest Gates Foundation report on teacher evaluation (“Gates: Test scores not enough for teacher reviews,” January 9) adds strength to the common view that there is something very wrong with American teachers. There is, for example, no pressing concern about how we should evaluate nurses, carpenters, doctors, dentists, lawyers, engineers, plumbers, butchers, newspaper reporters, etc.

Every profession has some inferior practitioners, but the available evidence says that American teachers as a group are excellent. When we control for the effects of poverty, our international test scores are very good, ranking at or near the top of world.

There are two major factors preventing teachers from being even more effective: (1) The high level of child poverty in the US, 23.1%, second among high-income countries; children who are hungry, have poor health care and little access to books will not do well in school regardless of teacher quality. (2) The unreasonable demands of the Common Core: a tight, inflexible curriculum that crushes creativity, designed by elitists with little idea of what goes on in classrooms, and a massive amount of testing, more than we have ever seen on this planet.

Stephen Krashen

Original article:


  1. Anonymous4:51 PM

    Thank you for your comments sir:

    The push for teacher evaluation makes no sense for the following reasons:

    1. I worked in the private sector for thirteen years before I became a teacher. There was no push for "accountability." There were lazy and bad workers everywhere- private firms go out of business all the time.

    2. Teacher "hate" has been a trending topic ever since the economic collapse and has nothing to do with lazy teachers, but has everything to do with pension envy and being politically scapegoated.

    3. Value-added results are consistently shown to be inconsistent. How can that be?

    4. Research shows that two teachers doing the EXACT same thing can achieve different results, so even if you find best practices and push them everywhere- you may not end up with best results.

    5. Look to publishers, politicians, and anyone standing to make money on changing the "broke" system for the driving force behind this movement.

    Every teacher I know wants to be a great teacher and enjoys getting better. Let's focus on what really helps students learn and become better citizens- and testing is not the answer.

  2. Anonymous2:53 PM

    I totally agree. This is not only making teachers feel inadequate and incompetent but the whole morale of the school system is being shot down. If the teachers are not good, the whole school and therefore the country is done for. All our graduates and professionals are also then consequently incompetent. I feel the evaluations are unecessary and should be brought out as an infringement on the teacher's rights. We are constantly asked to go through trainings (I guess these trainings are a waste of time) to improve ourselves and society will speak for itself. We are teachers not automated robots
    to be observed as we perform the tasks we were not programmed to do but chose to do as a career.

  3. Anonymous3:35 PM

    This Moyers & Company article, "When is the White House Meeting With Low-Income Americans?" relates to your comments.

  4. Great discussion. If I go to the doctor and I am having back problems because I am overweight. She prescribes a diet and exercise regiment. I choose to do nothing and my back problems persist...no growth, gain, or adequate progress. Is that, then, the doctor's fault? Is she a poor practitioner? Likewise, we recommend our students eat healthy, sleep enough, read and do homework at home. If they do not, then their progress is greatly slowed if not halted altogether. Are we now bad teachers? Why do we choose to focus on the negative when so much good happens each day in schools? At one time in our society education was the solution. How has it now become the problem?

  5. A good Public Education system is only useful for nations who
    have a future.