Monday, June 28, 2010

A better yardstick

An Op-ed column in the Washington Post by a second career, first-year teacher named Michelle Kerr has been making the rounds in the edublogosphere.  In it, Ms. Kerr states that she is fairly anti-union, not for cushy jobs, and believes that some pay should be based on good teaching.  How do you measure good teaching?  Simple.   Student performance.  With a couple of stipulations mind you. 

- Teachers be assessed based on only those students with 90 percent or higher attendance.

-Teachers be allowed to remove disruptive students from their classroom on a day-to-day basis.

-Students who don't achieve "basic" proficiency in a state test be prohibited from moving forward to the next class in the progression.

-That teachers be assessed on student improvement, not an absolute standard -- the so-called value-added assessment.

Now, what’s amusing is that this sort of thing should be happening anyway without some opinion editorial having to making its way around the Internet.  Those things aren’t teacher evaluation issues, they are basic education issues.  Attendance, classroom management, academic achievement, student improvement…..sounds like the foundation for good education.  Then why is this a teacher evaluation issue? 

Because it is currently the trend to tear apart public education and not look at the problem of education in America as a broader issue.  Those four stipulations shouldn’t be in the Washington Post, they should be in every teacher lounge, every Admin building, and every classroom in the country.  Teachers will be evaluated based on a population that comes to school expecting to learn.  Teachers will be supported in creating a positive learning environment.  Students will not be able to move on to the next level until mastery of the prior level is proven.  And teachers will do everything in their power to motivate students to improve. 

Is there a problem with that?

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