Friday, February 10, 2012
I Believe That High School Student Opinions Should Be Part Of Any "Teacher Evaluation System". Why Doesn't the DOE, State, and UFT Advocate For It?
In the battle between the DOE and UFT over the "teacher evaluation system", neither side advocates one of the most important aspects of what makes a "quality teacher". That is what the students think of their teacher? While I understand that student input at the elementary and middle school level would be heavily influenced by the teacher and would not be an appropriate group to make a teacher evaluation. However, high school students usually have the maturity to make rational decisions and are not afraid to speak their mind. Therefore, any part of the "teacher evaluation process" should include input from high school students. Governor Andrew Cuomo claims he will be the "student lobbyist" but he also has ignored any student input into the "teacher evaluation process" he threatens to implement, some "student lobbyist" ! Further, the DOE claims it is "children first" but they too ignore student input about their teachers as well. Only those fifth columnists from E4E has included a student input into the "teacher evaluation process" and that would be a minuscule 5%. I believe that for the high schools, the minimum student input should be 25% since these students are with the teacher 45 minutes every day. Wouldn't these students have a better idea about how good their teacher is? Having Assistant Principals do six observations yearly using a framework that can be abused or perverted and a State test that is of questionable value as the basis of wherever a teacher is "effective or not" is subject to abuse of the process by the Administration. Even 1,330 Principals, 30% of all New York State principals, have signed a petition to delay the "teacher evaluation system". Unfortunately, very few New York City Principals have signed the petition, about 10%.
The question is why don't the various education entities want to include student input in the "teacher evaluation system" is very clear. The student input portion cannot be predicted by any of them and would reduce Administrative control of the "teacher evaluation process". For example let's say a teacher tends to run a relaxed classroom, so that occasionally a student is looking at her cellphone or another student is not writing down all his notes. However, the teacher gets higher passing grades on tests and the students respond well to her teaching style. An Assistant Principal, using the "Danielson Framework" could find numerous weaknesses of the teacher. However, the students really like and respect the teacher and it shows up on their grades. Without the student input the Assistant Principal could reasonably give the teacher an "ineffective or developing" grade, despite her students doing well on tests. With a student input component, the Assistant Principal would be required to give the teacher an "effective" rating. Of course the opposite may be true and that is a risk that every teacher should be aware of.
What questions should be asked in the student survey about their teachers and what percentage of student responses in a class would be considered significant would need to be worked out. However, without real student input, the "teacher evaluation system" will be based upon a few observations by Administrators who can abuse the "Danilson framework" to come up with any rating that want.