Open Phones: Teachers' Evaluations

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Teachers: How do you think schools and teachers should be evaluated? If you don't believe in relying on standardized tests, what standards would you use? Call us and tell us how you think you and your school should be evaluated. Call us up or comment here!

Comments [14]

lori u. from Brooklyn, NY

I currently teach 11th grade English at one of the city's slotted "transformation" schools. This semester I was given the last 11th graders who still need to take the English Regents because they either took it and failed or have yet to show up for their assigned testing date. I have less than 50% attendance rate in these classes; many of the students are chronic LTAs (long-term absences) and no matter how much I call home or send letters nothing changes in their attendance. In fact, I have had several parents/grandparents ask me to please stop calling.

Of the students who attend, not one is on grade level for reading or writing. My lowest student reads at a second grade level, my highest reads at an 8th grade level.

I have NO problem teaching this population; I enjoy them as individuals, I like the challenge, and quite honestly I prefer teaching the struggling kids. BUT, when their test scores are tied to my evaluation (supposedly starting next year)--and, within the scores of the students whom I have NEVER seen before are counted as a "fail" in my data because they will most likely not show up for their testing date--I no longer want to teach them. I can move most students who show up to class regularly, and I have sadly become an expert at teaching to the test, but to be held accountable for students who don't come to school and/or who read at an early elementary level in 11th grade puts my career in jeopardy. I can't risk that.

This is why connecting teacher evaluation to student performance on a test is tricky. I am a good teacher and I actually want to work with this population, but if I want to be a career teacher (this is only my 11th year), I am not sure I can continue to work with this demographic.

I have been struggling with this issue all year.

Apr. 19 2011 12:43 PM
Snowy from New York City

A school is a small village. You need:
A competent administrator/chief teacher (principal);
Dedicated teachers;
A functioning custodian and custodial staff;
Parents who know the name of the school and hopefully the name of the teacher;
Students who are ready, willing and able to learn
An Open, Transparent and Honest system that allows for public comment, parental input, and a check on unilateral mayoral control.

The distribution of teacher abilities is similar to other distributions: some are exemplary and way above "average", most are quite good and get up every day to do the best they can, and a few, very few, are at the tail end, and are in the wrong job. But nearly all entered the field because they enjoy the challenges of working with young people (of all stripes and abilities) and encouraging the mastery of communication and research and critical thinking.
Anyone who thinks teachers are overpaid has obviously never been in a classroom.
I thank all of my teachers on the west side from Ms. Greenberg in kindergarten to Mr. Rachlin who got us through 6th grade. And I thank all the teachers of my own children, in 3 different city public schools in 3 districts, for all their care, and dedication to their students.

Apr. 19 2011 11:16 AM
MJMarx from New York City

When you walk through a school and have students, Admin. and teachers greet you, be pleasant and social with school visitors you recognize you are in a functioning school. Yes, you look at the art and take the time to read the writing on the school walls so that you can step into understanding that students that are not born into literate households are playing catch up to students who are. A compassion builds as you read writing that 'catching up students' are voicing. Adults would not want their children to face the tough knocks that so many of our city's kid's are confronted with.
Building community is what our schools need to become proficient in. Administrator's who understand how to establish a kind, gentle, trusting environment for students ought to be regulated by the DOE. So many administrator's do not have the skills to build a nurturing environment. We are allowing government to push the wrong message to our future generations. "We care", ought to be the message--not "perform well or you are not a valued member of our society", is a message that is not for the good of our society.
A society who invests in their own future by believing in small classrooms and the nurture that occurs when all children are individually paced in their own growth, is a society that prospers. We do need the investment of many skilled educator's, addressing the needs of needy students, who only have their teacher and school services to lift them out of poverty and ignorance.

Apr. 19 2011 11:11 AM
Audrey from NYC

We don't have to reinvent the wheel. Take a look at how other countries that have excellent schools are evaluating (and developing) teachers. They are NOT using standardized tests.

The use of tests is being driven by a political agenda, not an educational agenda.

Apr. 19 2011 11:07 AM

I think the bigger problem is that most schools/schooling is based on old models. Time to bring education in the present century. We have enough research showing how students learn and we should be applying this knowledge to the new model.

Enough with teaching kids how to sit still and be quiet and just follow orders--it's training for post office jobs (which will be obsolete before we know it) and service industry jobs, which is not going to keep America competitive.

Apr. 19 2011 11:06 AM

I hope that last caller was not an English Arts teacher. Like I really hope not.

Apr. 19 2011 11:03 AM
KP from NJ

If a standardized test is given in the third grade and the student does not pass, which teacher would you hold accountable? Kindergarten? First Grade? Second Grade? Third Grade? They all had input...along with parents....

Apr. 19 2011 10:58 AM
Tom from Geneva, Switzerland

There is no objective way to judge whether a school is good or not, and NY DOE which has no clear standards, curriculum, expectations, etc is not in a place to judge. What anyone can see is a school that isn't working- these are schools you walk into and you want to leave. As the comment above states the feeling of safety is fundamental. Kids can't learn if they don't feel safe and in many of the city's schools kids don't ever feel safe. I taught in the South Bronx for eight years and this was my experience.

Apr. 19 2011 10:57 AM

In the movie, Race to Nowhere, the Chair of the Education Dept at Stanford says that 50% of Stanford's incoming students receive remediation. Seems to be a phenomenon of the heavy testing schedule we put the students through today.

Apr. 19 2011 10:56 AM
CL from New York

Walcott's comments are nonsense. As difficult as it might be to accept, the biggest part of the solution has to be more money to attract smarter, better educated persons into the profession. Standardized testing of students is necessary, but so is the testing of teachers. I believe in the tenure system, but I also think that direct evaluation of the instructors is critical. It is politically and historically anathema in elhi education, but necessary nonetheless. Testing only the students is insufficient, and relying on supervisors' ratings is problematic for many reasons.

Apr. 19 2011 10:54 AM

I think that the question isn't about how the students are doing, but how the teachers are doing. Being a good student and learning are impacted by how good your teacher is at teaching. I think that there should be standardized tests with some practical component for teachers. This would also eliminate issues with the background of the students.

Apr. 19 2011 10:54 AM
john from office

Most students need remedial work because the schools don't work because the parents are not there.

Apr. 19 2011 10:52 AM
Rooney from Brooklyn, NY

To evaluate my school, I would most importantly ask the TEACHERS in my school how supported they feel by the administration in their teaching and what they would suggest -- like a teacher task force. Our admin works exactly the opposite of how we're encouraged to teach (straight lecture without outside commentary versus student-centered, inquiry-based method). Also, to truly evaluate learning in a school, you'd have to get rid of much of the standardized testing, to change the system entirely. Good testing does NOT equal true learning!

Apr. 19 2011 10:50 AM
Debbie from nyc

Graduation Rate
Morale of students and teachers
Percent of students who score above 75 or 80 on standardized tests (not above 65)
Teacher-Administration relationship tone
Teacher-Student relationship tone
Clear hallways
Attendance Rate
Fights, incidents (safety)
Teacher, student, parent, administration surveys
Parent involvement/parent-teacher conference participation

A lot of these are already used, but they should be mixed together more equally. When the "city" comes into the school, it is always announced and they are in the school for only a few days. The visits should be unannounced, frequent, and more focused on observing teachers, perhaps over a long term.

Apr. 19 2011 10:49 AM

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