Good vs. bad teachers: Who decides and how?

Michelle Rhee criticized last-in-first-out approaches to teacher layoffs while speaking to the Legislature in February. (AJC Photo)

Michelle Rhee criticized last-in-first-out approaches to teacher layoffs while speaking to the Legislature in February. (AJC Photo)

I am talking to Michelle Rhee later today about the role her new organization StudentsFirst played in the passage of what she calls the “Teacher Lifo” bill.

While “Lifo” refers to the Last In-First Out policy of teacher layoffs, I always thing of something else when I hear the acronym.

I think it sounds like the Teacher Lipo bill, meaning liposuction.

And some teachers might argue that the bill passed yesterday by the Georgia House does make a large sucking sound. After a quick review by the Senate, Senate Bill 184 goes to Gov. Nathan Deal, who is expected to sign it with great delight.

In essence, SB 184 requires local school systems to use teacher performance as the primary factor when deciding layoffs. Supporters argue that the policy change will give job security to the best educators and give mediocre teachers reason to improve. Seniority is no longer a consideration in who gets the boot in a budget crunch.

Rhee and her group have made the elimination of Lifo a major thrust and she was here earlier in the year to meet with legislators and the governor about it. She is due back in Atlanta Thursday evening for a Spelman College panel at 6:30 at the Sisters Chapel.

This morning I received a note from a Georgia teacher that raises good questions about this bill and others like it around the country. Here is the teacher’s note:

Ms. Downey, As an educator for a number of years, I am intrigued by the current discussion about “good vs. bad” teachers. I think that the biggest problem is there is not a standard to be compared to. How do you judge good or bad? What is an educated child? I’ve run into students that I’ve taught who hold jobs, have families, pay taxes and are good members of the community. I have former students in jail. I have former students thank me for what I did while they were in my class. I have students who are indifferent to me and I have students who don’t care for me even years after they were in my class. How am I to decide if I’m doing a good job?

I think it is a simple question with complicated answers. How should we decide?

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

136 comments Add your comment

Cindy Lutenbacher

April 12th, 2011
10:57 am

I can say one thing for certain: using students’ standardized test scores as part of the measure of good vs. bad teaching is the utter opposite direction we must go. Test scores primarily correlate with the SES of a school, with student placement in classes, with numbers of students with special needs, with numbers of students for whom English is a second language, with class sizes, with family ability to pay for test prep, and with a host of other factors that have nothing to do with teachers who really care about students and their education. I’ll take a teacher who goes the extra mile for our children over high test scores any day of the week.

Thankfully, my youngest has had remarkably caring and excellent teachers in DeKalb schools, and her schools have not been ones that are considered high scoring schools. But she’s getting what she needs. This standardized performance rating of teachers runs the grave risk of further decimating the ranks of outstanding teachers. It’s lunacy.

Dr. John Trotter

April 12th, 2011
11:06 am

This will be a complete mess, a colossal failure. Mark my words.

We're out!

April 12th, 2011
11:08 am

Personally I think we as parents and students (the stakeholders) should grade the teachers based on communication, relevant teacher methods and a host of other classroom techniques….. much the way they grade our kids. If the teacher is any good and is able to teach kids in a meaningful manner then they get a good grade. I have taken graduate level classes and the school actually sent an evaluation after the class for the teacher. The teachers we are now seeing on the High school level are a mixed bag… some are excellent (good organizational and communication skills) and some are just bad (spend their time going to tribunals instead of learning effective classroom management techniques). This should be done for all or our teachers… test scores don’t tell us anything and they are at the mercy of a score that does not indicate their teaching effectiveness. If teachers knew they were being evaluated by parents and students and more like what the business world requires then we might get the poor teachers to either step up to being better or get out.

David Sims

April 12th, 2011
11:11 am

Have the former students take a post-graduation test on the academic subjects they were taught in school, and let us see how well they do.

You don’t need to go to school AT ALL in order to have a menial trade and be a good person. Children were growing into productive adults before the United States existed, and before the Roman Empire existed. Schools are for teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic on levels ranging from the basics to the very advanced. Whoever expands the role of schools beyond that is social engineering, and, like any sort of engineering, you have to know the subject before you can expect good results.

Leftists are ego-maniacal, arrogant narcissists who think that they are such experts in social engineering that they would get good results from their “interventions,” if only people would [put their excuses here]. They’ve had fifty years in which to prove their effectiveness, and all they have proved is that they are no more effective now than they were fifty years ago.

They are no more qualified to twiddle with people than they’d be to assemble an old-fashioned pocket watch from parts scattered across a table, though that occupation would keep them busy at lower cost and prevent them from doing nearly as much harm.

teacher&mom

April 12th, 2011
11:11 am

Words fail me…. I’m so weary of the “Rhee & Gates have all the answers” crowd. I’m tired of trying to be heard above the business reform crowd. I’m tired of trying to sound the alarm about the future of more testing all in the name of accountability. Weary to the bone.

Your comments about Lifo sounding like Lipo are spot on…We are wasting our energy and resources on individuals and reforms that are superficial and irrelevant. But what the heck….it all “looks” good on paper and it gives the “appearance” of real achievement and success. If in the event it doesn’t provide the desired results, just blame it on the teachers and their unions. Works like a charm every.single.time. :P

The General

April 12th, 2011
11:12 am

Dr. J.T. is absolutely correct in his assessment.

Dunwoody Mom

April 12th, 2011
11:14 am

You know – it’s really not that hard to pick out ineffective teachers and effective teachers I don’t really like the terms “bad” and “good” here) and it has nothing to do with standardized test scores, or whether they are “mean” or “nice”. If a parent is truly involved with their child’s school and their children’s education, well, we pretty much “know” the teachers. With the online grading and assignment systems available, we can track our own children’s progress while at the same time see how they are performing against their peers. We can judge the amount and type of work teachers are providing.

I’ve been lucky that my children can “survive” the bad teachers, but not all students are capable of this. Principals know who the ineffective teachers are. The problem is that they are powerless in getting rid of these teachers. With the number of effective teachers who are out of jobs, I hope this new legislation will allow school systems to rid themselves of those individuals who really do not have any reason to be in the teaching profession.

Cris

April 12th, 2011
11:17 am

As a teacher with 15+ years experience, my problem with this bill is how many experienced teachers with ADVANCED degrees (paid more according to how much education they have recieved) will be let go so the counties can save money by keeping the inexperienced (lower salaried) teachers….seems like an end-run to me….

Tad Jackson

April 12th, 2011
11:18 am

You can teach your fanny off all day long and all week long and all semester long and all year long, but it’s up to the students to study and discuss the topics in class and perform well, or not, on the tests and final exam. I cannot grab their hand and help them mark down the wrong, right, or maybe answer. You know, just can’t do that.

So here’s how to rate the performance of a teacher …

1. Come into my classroom and sit down and watch me teach for at least an hour
2. Look at my tests
3. Look at the sheets I design that explain assignments or essays or other projects
4. Talk to me personally over a cup of real good coffee about what I’m up to in the classroom and how I’m feeling about anything to do with kids and school and parents these days
5. Interview my students about me
6. Interview the parents of my students about me
7. Come along on a field trip and observe me in field trip teacher action
8. Ask other teachers to give you their impression of me as a teacher

But wait! That would reveal all the right information! And it would take too long! That would be exactly the way you could rate a teacher’s performance! Go figure!

http://www.adixiediary.com

Georga Kardashian

April 12th, 2011
11:19 am

I teach in Newton County and they want all teachers to be certified in as many subjects as possible. So if they have a need for you to teach Social Studies this year, that is what you will teach and next year they may need a Math teacher. You might not be well suited to teach math and have much experience in teaching Social Studies. So what standard will these teachers be measured by. I agree with Dr. Trotter in that we are trying to be frontrunners, but will likely end up with mud on our face. Can we use this same criteria to evaluate our administrators?

Robert Penland

April 12th, 2011
11:22 am

Thirty-nine years of teaching experience tell me that this bill is “for the birds”. Teachers have little control over the outcome of their teaching because ninety percent of the outcome is a result of home environment. Home and parental motivation being very important, if not pivital. Teachers will just teach the test to insure job security. This will result in good test scores, but bad education. The way to solve this problem is to quit letting illegal aliens in our schools; I myself have had as many as eight students who could neither speak or understand English enough to be educated. Stop building schools to house illegal immigrants and giving them free and reduced-cost lunches. We should then have enough money to educate students, give teachers raises, and avoid laying off staff. Do you not realize that good teachers will transfer out of transitional schools to avoid these artificial and unfair standards of success?

APS Teacher

April 12th, 2011
11:31 am

In a system like APS, where it is a matter of public record that adminstrators regualrly harass and intimidate their teachers to get them to change answers on standardized tests, fudge attendance records, or write “Go to Hell” memos to the GBI; how can we even CONSIDER using the evaluations completed by these people to make firing decisions?

Martha

April 12th, 2011
11:33 am

Until the parental support for education is factored in—do you help your child with his/her homework? Do you insist your child study regularly? Is your child at school every day, prepared and ready for the day’s work/activities? Do you attend teacher conferences when you are invited? Do you attend Open Houses? Does your child have excessive absences because “I just couldn’t get out of bed and get them there?” really doesn’t cut it as an excuse for your child’s being out of school. Do you encourage/require your child to read? Do you support–in your actions, words and attitude—the school and the teachers? Do you think academics are more important than athletics? Do you make sure your child is home and asleep at a reasonable hour, EVERY NIGHT? Or do you let him/her roam the streets with the thugs and hos?

Until the parents act like parents and suport the school and all that it stands for, there is no legislation, no teacher ratings, no merit pay, no nothing that will improve our schools.

And as sad as it is, a big help would come in tying entitlements to a child’s behavior, attendance and performance at school. You gotta hit’em where it hurts to succeed today. Too many of these parents don’t understand being responsible parents.

Political Mongrel

April 12th, 2011
11:36 am

@Ted: I agree totally. But as long as we have administrators who decide that a teacher is incompetent because he doesn’t jump totally into the Fad Of The Year, good teachers are still at risk for dismissal for meaningless reasons. I once had a principal who downrated me because I didn’t start every class with a recitation of an Essential Question from the board and didn’t feel that graphic organizers needed to be in students’ hands every for every single class. And when the next principal came in, he snorted and told me not to bother, and he gave me excellent ratings based on what I and my students produced.

One reason many, many teachers distrust the current onslaught of so-called ‘accountability’ measures and ‘merit pay’ is because they have seen their misuse and abuse over and over. Everything that comes down the pipe that’s the Great New Thing stays a little while, and the next Great New Thing takes over. Few people seem to take into account that the Great New Things often reach here after they’d long been abandoned by their originators as ineffective or replaced by another’s Great New Thing.

And to be honest, one problem for older, more experienced teachers is that they have seen so many fads come and go. They have a pretty good idea what will work and what is meaningless. They are the ones who are more likely to resist meaningless change and who will suffer for it in their evaluations.

Paulo977

April 12th, 2011
11:37 am

“Stop building schools to house illegal immigrants and giving them free and reduced-cost lunches” Sooner or later I knew this poor old scapegoat would be offered as a reason for what is being peddled as EDUCATION in our schools!!!

Lisa

April 12th, 2011
11:40 am

There are “Good” and “Bad” teachers, unfortunately. There are teachers that prepare engaging, interesting lesson plans that capture the imagination and interest of children of school age. There are teachers that pay attention to the patterns of their students test and homework scores and make an effort to keep in touch with the parents. There are teachers that make children feel welcome in their classrooms and a part of a community of students. Then there are teachers that feel they are overworked, underpaid, and are just not emotionally or intellectually available to their students. Teaching is about making the connections of real life, history, and the ever encroaching future come into focus for these students. It takes more than a monotonous lecture every day to get students interested in learning. It takes innovative thinking to come up with ways to catch and hold the attention of a society of children who are seemingly all at some stage of ADHD because they, like all students before them, don’t have the mental daftness to sit and be lectured for eight hours a day only to go home to complete homework that they have no idea how to correctly process. I am an adult and if at work, there is a boring meeting, I am thinking about 20 different things, dinner, sports, baths, homework, family time; how do we expect our children to have to endure this. Two words to the teachers out there “Hands On”- this is how 70-80% of people learn best. Get them up and get them involved in the process of learning. Be excited to teach them and they will be excited to learn from you. To the “Really Bad” teachers who feel that it is “their” classroom- you need to go somewhere far, far away from teaching because the classrooms are the sole property of the children who enter each day and children like adventure, drama, and activity so get with “their” program.

Dr. John Trotter

April 12th, 2011
11:41 am

I openly campaigned against the Quality Education Act (QBE) in 1985 and 1986 when everyone was singing its praises. (I ran for State Representative against Bill Lee, the Chairman of the House Rules Committee and longest-serving House member at tht time.) Jo Frank Harris’s administration had all the answers to school reform. Oh…QBE was going to change everything. Right. I told everyone that it was going to stand for Quit Being an Educator or Quit Brutalizing Educators! All of the GTEP (STEP in Fulton and ATEP in Atlanta) mess came from QBE. All of the posting of standardized test scores came from QBE.

The State has constantly tweaked QBE to no avail. Then came the A+ Program under Roy Barnes. Again…no improvement. Just more headaches.

Now we are going to let the likes of an educational failure and charlatan, Michelle Rhee, to have more terrible influences over some so-called school reform in Georgia. She came to education through Teach for America. Rhee taught three years for Education Alternatives, Inc. in Baltimore. A study on this private, pro-profit company, after three years, found that its nine schools, in the area of test scores, “have shown no more improvement than those schools in the system” (Atlanta Journal, 6-26-95, p. C4). Rhee apparently claimed that her children’s reading scores jumped astronomically but Baltimore doesn’t seem to have the records to prove this.

The mayor of Washington, D. C. just plucked her to be the superintendent based on, I believe, the recommendation of the mayor of New York City. Wow. Talking about being a novice and being puffed out! The Bible warns against appointing “novices” as “elders” because they will become “puffed up.” This puffed-up Michelle Rhee is a disaster. She was a disaster in Washington, D. C. Most observers believe that she, with her slash and burn tactics, was the main reason that the Wasington, D. C. mayor went down in ignoble defeat at the next election.

Michelle Rhee knows nothing about public education and yet our naive and imbecilic legislators are following her off the educational cliff.

To APS teacher

April 12th, 2011
11:42 am

You are right on the ethics of the teaching profession.

Dr. John Trotter

April 12th, 2011
11:43 am

I take back the word “imbecilic.” I’ll just say “naive.” They are truly naive, if they think that this will work.

Dr NO

April 12th, 2011
11:43 am

The only issue I see is some sorry no-good teachers whining about discrimination. If Rhee can dodge that bullet she will be fine.

LIFO doesnt work in public entities as one is basically choosing from the bottom of the barrel and truth be told probably about 65% of all public employees should be canned…no questions asked.

I look forward to Rhees slash and burn approach.

Soon to be former science teacher

April 12th, 2011
11:45 am

The current teacher evaulation system is a joke. In our system, they introduced the Class Keys system as a potential replacement. It required extensive documentation of lesson plans, relations to standards, use of data-driven instruction, etc. in addition to multiple in-class observations by administration. To people who weren’t already doing these things (that in our system are required) it seems like a lot of documentation. But it really isn’t. And it seems like a much better way to back up claims that “So and so is a bad teacher.” – Our system set the idea of Class Keys aside for now… too much money and work to implement. I just want to be assessed on my teaching ability, rather than if there’s some paper balls on my classroom floor.

robert thomson

April 12th, 2011
11:53 am

i am so freaking sick and tired of public education and all these politicians think they know how to run schools better than we teachers. I’m done, finished.Rhee has no idea what she is talking about. … My plan is to continue my career somewhere else, but it WILL NOT be in a public school. I no longer want to be a part of a failing system. My nursing degree will be very valuable to me.

john

April 12th, 2011
11:54 am

Bad idea. Something needs to be done, but basing the decisions soley on performance is not the answer. I’ve been laid off from a job because of my salary and if they had asked me to cut 10% or 20%, etc., I might have done it. Teachers don’t have this option, period. Now you have teachers who will be let go b/c of their salary (they’ll say it is performance related), so they can hire a young teacher at 1/2 the salary- with no experience. Dollar wise, this is an excellent move, but in the long term, all you are doing is churning students in an out. Experience/years of service, should factor into the equation b/c no parent wants the “1st year or 2nd year” teacher. What happens when a teacher is let go after 20 years and is in the top “tier” of pay? Where is that teacher going to go to teach again? Another school may want her, and if the teacher stays in the state of Georgia, then their salary is based on years of service within the state. That’s not negotiable. This could prohibit the teacher from being hired somewhere else b/c they can’t “legally” stay in a school system w/o getting the 20-year pay. They may be “too costly” to hire at this point.
One of the major issues with teacher pay is the amount of degrees they can get to raise their pay, and now a days, it is “simpler” to get the degree b/c it is online. I’m not saying the online course is easier, but time wise, it helps the teachers a lot. Each degree provides a substantial bump in pay. Some of the degrees are for administrative roles, and you’ve got a lot of teachers holding degrees who are NOT in administration, but getting the bump in pay. Of course, they have to have this degree to get the admin job. . . . . . Maybe it’s these degrees that shouldn’t have the big “booost” in pay to the next level? You’ve got teachers who also have no options on where they can teach. You teach in South GA or North GA and there aren’t other places to teach (not as many schools).

This whole issue is much more complicated than just “performance” based. Simply put, we’ve got too many teachers running around who don’t need to be churned like the corporate world. They don’t get “bonuses” for “great” performances, so they shouldn’t get penalized for “poor” performance. Also, they have no control over who they teach either.

betty

April 12th, 2011
11:55 am

As a veteran teacher, I will take responsibility for my classroom teaching and environment. Do not even attempt to tie my profession to a group of students who have no parents to help them at night or even worse, no parents who do not care. We have parent night and it is just a large gathering of faculty in our rooms. Noone shows up. Parents are responsible for the education as much as I am. Teachers have them for only 8 hours a day. Parents have had them since day one.

Mikey D

April 12th, 2011
11:59 am

@Maureen
If, during your conversation, Ms. Rhee says that she would evaluate teachers based on anything other than test scores, then that’ll be a pretty good indication that she’s lying. (That, and the fact that her lips are moving!) Her obsession with test scores while in DC is well-documented.
A truly comprehensive evaluation system using multiple means is what is desperately needed, but also what won’t happen. Why? Because it will mean more work for administrators, of course. Many districts in Georgia are already backing off Class Keys because the administrators have begun complaining about the extra work they’ll have to do. Amazing how no one was concerned when it meant extra work for the teachers, but now that the administrators are being inconvenienced, well we just can’t have that.
What it will boil down to is test scores. We’ll get a nice, neat little printout that will tell us who is a good teacher and who is not. What a shame for the disadvantaged kids who need great teachers. Who’s going to want to teach those kids?
Michelle Rhee is a proven liar and fraud. She is a political opportunist of the worst sort.I hope that you’ll ask her some hard-hitting questions and try to pin her down on some of this bogus stuff she’s throwing out.

Dunwoody Mom

April 12th, 2011
11:59 am

@bettty – If you only want to teach children who have strong parental support, then I would suggest a career change. To say that you cannot do your job because of the lack of parental support is a cop-out. There are plenty of teachers who teach in inner-city schools, in ESOL schools who are dedicated, effective teachers.

Lynx

April 12th, 2011
11:59 am

@Tad Jackson. You have the right idea in holistic assessment. Who says every teacher needs annual evaluation? Unless a teacher changes grades, schools, or districts, or is being evaluated for an award, promotion, disciplinary action, or improvement, every three years should be sufficient to THOROUGHLY assess teacher performance. Yeah, if you really want to you can collect test data, but use a five year moving average of scores to look at trends, and compare the trend indicator with all the others in the same school teaching the same class or grade, to rule out across school differences, as well as comparing with every teacher in the district or state.

John Galt

April 12th, 2011
12:00 pm

Who decides what a good accountant is? Or an attorney? Or a sales clerk? Or a sanitation worker? Or a nuclear engineer?

The boss, that’s who. Teachers will become just like the rest of the community under this bill. Imperfect, but better than LIFO, which rewards tenured but unmotivated teachers.

Lynx

April 12th, 2011
12:02 pm

Here’s an assessment tool being used in Virginia…

http://www.teachstone.org/about-the-class/

John Galt

April 12th, 2011
12:05 pm

Dr. John Trotter -

I’m afraid that the product being produced by the public school system does not warrant allowing nothing but educators continue to assess themselves. More and more money is poured in and the resultant product gets poorer and poorer.

I don’t have all of the answers but continuing on the same path is worse than “naive”.

Raquel Morris

April 12th, 2011
12:05 pm

I’ve been following this blog for a while now and it’s become more and more apparent that a vocal group of teachers don’t want to be evaluated on anything at all. I agree that standardized test scores are not the way to do it, but come on. There has to be some metric available for determine effective and ineffective teachers.

Like any other professionals, teachers should be rewarded when they do well and sanctioned when they do not. Please convince me, a product of public schools and a parent, that you DO NOT believe that you’re entitled to keep your jobs regardless of your performance.

Too many of the teachers on here have the mistaken notion that the classroom is about them. It’s not.

madaboutmath

April 12th, 2011
12:07 pm

@Dr. JT–I like “imbecilic” better, but I guess even you must be somewhat politically correct.

Tonya C.

April 12th, 2011
12:11 pm

Dunwoody Mom:

And look at the turnover in those schools and the quality of teachers they generally receive. It is exhausting, backbreaking work and difficult to do for the long haul (especially for younger educators). To discount the importance of parental involvement is to turn a blind eye to the fact that schools with higher SES do better than Title I schools and the like.

And principals are far from powerless to get rid of ineffective teachers. They have the same power to hire as they do to fire. All they need to do is document and follow protocol, and they can have a teacher removed within a semester. I’ve worked in HR for a school district and have seen it done multiple times. Many are just to chicken-s&it to do it or not concerned enough about the students to make it happen.

Paulo977

April 12th, 2011
12:11 pm

Dunwoody Mom
“If you only want to teach children who have strong parental support, then I would suggest a career change” Oh absolutely …agree 100%

Jan

April 12th, 2011
12:12 pm

I have had students who rave about a teacher while others think he/she is the worst ever (I am sure I am included). I spoke with administrators who assessed teachers solely on their ability to “not rock the boat.” I have had discussions with a principal who praised a teacher while an assistant principal thought he/she was nothing special. I have had discussions about colleagues where professional opinions ran the gamut. I taught in a school system with very involved and outspoken parents but any issue that negatively involved their own child made their objectivity disappear (especially when their child did not make the team!). The problem is the absence of objective (academic) criteria. I admit, the evaluation of the performance of a school system (teacher evaluation is not the equivalent!) is not a simple issue so just blame the teacher for the present mess and it will go away! There is no fail-save solution. The best we can do is to make sure that we implement and enforce firm and high (academic) standards that guarantee that the best prepared professionals will teach the students. Similar firm and high standards should apply to administrators and staff in the school systems. Then allow these people to do their job and evaluate them within a reasonable time frame (good things will not happen overnight). The criteria for these evaluations need to be established by these professionals in conjunction with the community. School systems that don’t do well can learn from school systems that do perform. However, I predict several entities that will be a problem during this process: politicians, uneducated or uninterested parents (they may also simply be overworked), underperformers present in the system, athletic departments/schools of education, and available money (you have to pay those capable professionals!) among them.

Lynx

April 12th, 2011
12:12 pm

I guess the CLASS assessment in the link I posted is the same Georgia had as CLASS Keys. It has been endorsed by the University of Virginia Currey College of Education, and is actually implemented for school districts by the University. I know in one district, it has been used to remove a tenured math teacher whom parents had been complaining about for years and the district math coordinator had tried to remove. Without the documentation, this wasn’t possible. With CLASS observations and reports conducted by a third party, it became clear that she was not teaching effectively. The lower test scores in her class on state testing were only an indicator, because many teachers in that district had low average test scores, but not all were judged ineffective teachers.

Again, why would every teacher need an annual evaluation? After the first couple of years, a teacher should only be evaluated every 3 years. This would relieve some of the paperwork for teachers and possibly provide employment for third party assessors.

Mikey D

April 12th, 2011
12:13 pm

@Raquel:
I’ve yet to see any teachers who say that they don’t want to be evaluated on anything at all. That’s a foolish statement on your part. I welcome evaluation because I work hard and I do a fine job. The complaint from educators has been and continues to be the fact that we have consistently been shut out of the discussion. You want some ideas on teacher assessment? Ask teachers. The ideas we could come up with would be more accurate, more comprehensive, and more fair than anything our wonderful “leaders” have bandied about. And I believe that you’d find a teacher-developed evaluation system would actually be more rigorous. I want my colleagues to work as hard as I do, and my standards are very high. I’m all for weeding out the non-hackers. But to obsess on a faulty system of multiple-guess tests the way Michelle Rhee has done is asinine and foolish.

Tonya C.

April 12th, 2011
12:15 pm

And to have people amazed about the ‘product’ being produced by public schools when the ‘product’ being put into public schools is often sub-par astonishes me. Cultural and societal influences have changed, even distorted the quality of student entering public schools today. Anyone who says different is in denial.

Tad Jackson offered up what many teachers would love to be the grading mechanism of their performance. But administrators are not going to take the time to actually GRADE the performance of many teachers on a holistic level. They do snapshot views and assign ratings based on 15-minute samples maybe twice a year. Train the administrators to do what exists NOW correctly, and we could all get off this hamster wheel of change and teachers could get back to the business of teaching.

ak_cov

April 12th, 2011
12:17 pm

Georgia Kardashian, I teach in Newton Co. as well and we haven’t been told anything about multiple certifications… is this a middle school push?

Dunwoody Mom

April 12th, 2011
12:17 pm

@Tonya C – I know for a fact that Principals are at times powerless to rid his/her school of ineffective teachers.

No one is discounting parental involvement. Of course, it is very, very important. But there are children who for whatever reason, being raised by grandparents, parents do not speak english, etc., that, for whom, teachers are their lifesavers. This is nothing new for this generation. It has always been this way. If it is such a struggle for one to teach these students, then just don’t do it. Find something else to do. These children deserve someone in their life that is going to be their biggest cheerleader and in many cases, it is their teacher.

historydawg

April 12th, 2011
12:18 pm

Rhee is mesmerized by numbers and has no understanding of the historical purposes of public education in our democracy. She needs a little humanities education and a greater comfort with nuances which exist in the real world. It is a shame that corporate America and such ignorance are controlling the discourse in education today.
Do you really want students to evaluate the effectiveness of the teacher? Most students like the easy teachers and dislike the ones who challenge them. Most parents agree with whatever the students tell them. And because everyone went to school, everyone is an expert on what should be done in the classroom. Find a student and/or a parent who can see the big picture and appreciate rigor, even if it costs them a A. It is rare.

Below the City

April 12th, 2011
12:18 pm

Maureen, who is Michelle Rhee, why are you interviewing her, what has she to do with Georgia teachers, and who pays her ?

catlady

April 12th, 2011
12:19 pm

I hope you will ask Ms. Rhee some real questions about how SHE would have fared with LIFO. Given her problems (taping kids’ mouths shut) and her actually LESS than stellar scores, I imagine she would not have been kept if she had been under LIFO. I know around here she would have been on a PDP for sure!

Mid GA Retiree

April 12th, 2011
12:19 pm

I had a supervisor who once told me that to be successful, you should look on a task with a “how I can” attitude, rather than a “why I can’t” attitude. Teachers can be evaluated. However, the students must also be evaluated. It will take more than test scores to evaluate the student. Parental support will have to be taken into account for the student evaluation. Then, administrators will have to come to the realization that they will have to get out of their offices and into the classrooms for more than 5 minutes, or one hour, or even one day, to effectively rate a teacher. It will take a combination of administrator reviews, peer reviews, student evaluations, and yes, test scores, to come up with a teacher evaluation system. It will also have to be a work in progress, a system that in itself must be constantly reviewed for improvement.

Tonya C.

April 12th, 2011
12:19 pm

I think 360 reviews would alleviate some of the frustration for teachers too. It could give fair weighting to opinions of administration, faculty, staff, students, and parents. But again, that would require time and effort on the part of all parties and that may be difficult to come by.

mom2two

April 12th, 2011
12:20 pm

All of this reminds me of the blueberry story (which I’m sure you teachers have heard before).
http://teachers.net/gazette/JUN02/vollmer.html

Tonya C.

April 12th, 2011
12:25 pm

Dunwoody Mom:

Not they are not. Let me repeat: THEY ARE NEVER POWERLESS. The only exception being is if that teacher has connections in the school district, then administration is S.O.L. I’m over the the b.s. being fed to the general public that states otherwise. This ISN’T a union state. Any supervisor can fire any employee at will.

And I’m over that teachers are supposed to overcome all odds. Again, it’s not realistic for the long haul. Some kids will be saved, but others will inevitably be left behind. Teachers who work in your neck of the woods stay a heck of a lot longer than someone working in College Park, and the love of kids isn’t always why.

justbrowsing

April 12th, 2011
12:25 pm

@historydawg- Thank you!!!
I was thinking the exact same thing as I read the posts. I have encountered so many parents focused on the “grade” that they never took time to see how their child’s actions/ inactions played a role in their receiving a certain grade. Next, parents complain to the administrators because students complain. Finally, the administrators deem you as unable to get along with parents and students. I have seen this dione before. Adding rigor to anything academic in Georgia (K-12) results in that teacher being deemed difficult, non compliant, or “not a good fit” for teaching. Then we wonder about grade inflation.

Socrates

April 12th, 2011
12:28 pm

Sorry teachers…but standardized tests are the sole measure of whether a teacher is or is not doing their job. The standards (correct me if I’m wrong) are the “minimum” level of teaching expected during specific grade levels. So what is the PROBLEM???? Teach them the standards…they pass the test and you look terrific! Why is that so hard to understand? I give instructions all the time to employees and then have supervisors check to see that the task was accomplished. If the supervisor failed to teach and then check up on my employees I would fire them. Quickly!!! So why should a teacher be treated differently? Everyone should be accountable for their job.

Dunwoody Mom

April 12th, 2011
12:29 pm

Well, Tonya, we’ll just agree to disagree.