Do classroom observations of teachers give us reliable info?

One of the foundations of Georgia’s new teacher evaluation system will be classroom observations by administrators, which are supposed to occur twice a year and last 30 minutes each.

There are already doubts about whether these classroom visits will occur given the time constraints on principals or whether they will yield reliable information on teacher effectiveness. (See comment from the leader of the DeKalb teachers group that he is hearing complaints these observations are not happening as required in the pilot program under way.)

Here is new research that will add to the concerns. This is from Indiana University School of Education:

Classroom observation measures don’t necessarily provide a clearer picture of teacher effectiveness than value-added measures based on student test scores, according to a review of the most recent report from the Measures of Effective Teaching Project’s large-scale examination of teacher evaluation methods. The review was led by Cassandra Guarino, associate professor in the educational leadership and policy studies department at the Indiana University School of Education, and co-authored by Brian Stacy, a doctoral fellow at Michigan State University.

The MET describes its latest report, published by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as “the largest study of instructional practice and its relationship to student outcomes.” The report, issued earlier this year, is part of a series examining issues of teaching and learning assessment. For this study, the MET team videotaped multiple lessons from teachers across the nation and scored lessons using several different classroom observation rubrics and trained raters. It found that classroom observation scores varied substantially from lesson to lesson, from rater to rater, and from instrument to instrument.

While Guarino and Stacy concur with the MET report authors that multiple measures of teacher effectiveness are needed to provide a more complete picture of teacher performance, they take the interpretation of the MET report findings several steps further.

“Classroom observation measures of teacher performance are as variable and imprecise as value-added measures based on student test scores and should be considered equally controversial,” Guarino said. “Given the current state of the art, neither should be held up as a gold standard, although they may both contain important information.

“Teaching effectiveness is a complex construct. I think we have to recognize that all the measures we currently have of effective teaching contain a lot of variability and measurement error,” Guarino said.

Her review analyzing the MET Project findings was produced for the “Think Twice” think tank review project, produced by the National Education Policy Center with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. The center’s mission is to provide the public, policy makers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications.

Guarino and Stacy question particularly the emphasis the MET report placed on validating classroom observations with test score gains. Although the MET concluded that teachers who scored positively on classroom observations were tied to higher student achievement on state tests and better student evaluations of those teachers, the correlations across measures were quite low.

Guarino said the classroom observations provide important information, but the observations aren’t uniform in either the instrument used to grade the observation or how it is carried out.

“The MET report highlights the variability in classroom observation measures of teacher performance. There’s a lot of variability in how different rubrics judge a teacher’s performance, and there’s variability in how a particular teacher’s lesson is judged from one rater to another, even using the same rubric,” Guarino said. “There’s also variability when two different lessons of the same teacher are judged. So what you end up with is a lot of disagreement as to what the teachers’ actual effectiveness score should be.”

As a result, she said, multiple observations end up being scored on an average to improve statistical reliability, but they remain imprecise.

Also problematic, Guarino said, was the emphasis on how well classroom observations relate to value-added measurements — ones that determine how much “value” a teacher adds to a student’s learning based on students’ scores on standardized tests.

“The correlations between the classroom observations and the value added are relatively low,” Guarino said. “Perhaps they’re picking up some different aspects of effective teaching,” she said of value-added measures. “It doesn’t necessarily mean one is a substitute for another.

Guarino said the MET report shows that classroom observations are most reliable when they focus on classroom dynamics rather than content.

“It may be the case that they pick up on the transmission of non-cognitive skills — things like learning to pay attention, collaborate or express oneself in a constructive manner,” she said. “Some current research suggests that these non-cognitive skills have a large payoff in later labor market earnings. Now, value-added measures — i.e., measures of teacher effectiveness based on student test score gains — may be better than classroom observations at picking up on the transmission of cognitive skills.”

Guarino and Stacy said the MET report does a good job describing classroom observation tools but leaves several unanswered questions about how they can be best implemented.

•Can school districts afford the time and money required to train classroom observers that would allow a highly reliable classroom evaluation measurement?
•Do classroom observations primarily discern how teachers transmit non-cognitive skills?
•Can classroom observations provide feedback that improves teaching effectiveness in a meaningful way?

Guarino is currently directing a study on value-added measures funded by an Institute of Education Sciences grant. In the study, Guarino and colleagues investigate different methods with simulated data, controlling for certain effects such as low-achieving students paired with high-performing teachers. Even with an idealized simulated data set, Guarino said, the results of her team’s work have shown variability in measurement.

“What we found is that value-added measures were fairly imprecise and, in some cases, biased; although some methods were better than others, and measures based on these methods may contain helpful information,” she said.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

87 comments Add your comment

Attentive Parent

May 9th, 2012
3:37 am

In the last 2 organized attempts at national radical ed reform, the individual districts, schools, and classrooms are where the implementation got derailed. The principals and teachers, bless their hearts, insisted on teaching the students the content and knowledge they thought was necessary. All this was detailed in the Rand Change Agent Study conducted by the feds from 1973 to 1978.

The MET Project is using classroom observations to insist that this time the teachers most implement outcomes based education practices in the classroom. Or be deemed not effective and lose their jobs. Georgia’s NCLB waiver document includes a representation Governor Deal will mandate these observations on all the non-Race to the Top districts.

I also want to note that Hinojosa’s Dallas district and Avossa’s Charlotte-Meck district were piloting these MET classroom observations. I think that is a primary reason AdvancED recruited them to Cobb and Fulton, respectively. Both districts were piloting what is called Transitional Outcomes Based Education.

By recruiting these men AdvancED made sure Cobb and Fulton became committed to implementing the toxic Transformational OBE. No matter what their taxpayers want. In fact, a tactless principal yesterday admitted that was the primary function of Fulton’s new charter. Which I already knew but it was a startling graphic admission.

Attentive Parent

May 9th, 2012
3:40 am

By the way, I use the term “radical” because that is the term the advocates themselves use in their to the trade, inside documents. Which I have.

Concerned

May 9th, 2012
5:52 am

While observations may be inconsistent in rating…I do think over time they might provide a more accurate picture than allowing part of the evaluation to be based on student surveys. Is asking a 6 or 12 year old really an accurate picture of teacher effectiveness?

crankee_yankee

May 9th, 2012
6:00 am

The current instrument is laughably impreciseat best. Based on the adage “more is better,” the new instrument may not be much better. The problem, as I see it, is in the time mandated for observation coverage.

From what I see and hear about it, there isn’t enough time in the year to implement the observations & paperwork associated with them. What I hear is 3-4 hours of paperwork per teacher and I am not sure if this includes the observations themselves (this comes from administrators piloting the new Teacher Keys system).

The new addition of the 4 “drive-by’s” (10-15 minute unannounced walk-throughs) by the governor’s office only deepens the time investment on the administrator’s part. Where is the time going to come from? What current admin duties will be relegated to a back-burner? Discipline? IEP’s? Curriculum development? Meetings (wait, this could be a good thing)? Something has to give or what we will see is another administrative position being necessary (unfunded fo course, this is, of course, GA) solely for implementing observations. Administrative bloat, I already have seen admin positions cteated just for “testing”, again unfunded so we lost classroom teachers when it was created. That is where unfunded positions come from, classroom teachers are eliminated and classroom sizes increase. There is not enough preliminary thought going into this and there will be undesireable fallout we do not , as yet, comprehend.

Dr. John Trotter

May 9th, 2012
6:00 am

Imprecise, varied, biased. Hmm. Not great adjectives for a vote of confidence in this so-called “objective” teacher observation instrument. Teaching is not a science; it is an art. Trying to quantify “measurables” about good teaching practices is like trying to quantify the quality of grandma’s love or the Butterfly Explosion at Callaway Gardens. Bill and Melinda Gates (and Eli and Edith Broad) need to realize that some things are just not quantifiable. But, both of these families, although altruistic in outward appearance, surely realize the billions and billions of dollars that they can tap into once they get their claws totally wrapped around this bonanza called public education.

AdvancED (SACS’s parent company) has apparently already realized that there’s lots of money to be made in this gig. But, what irks me is the self-righteous tone that drips from the lips of AdvanceMoney’s head money-grubber, Mark Elgart. He threatens school systems with the withdrawal of accreditation, whips them in line, and keeps the public monies flowing into his company. To me, it sounds like a form of educational “extortion.” But, naive superintendents and school boards continue to willingly hand their hats and brains to this man and his private company. Is this ludicrous or what? Ha!

teacher&mom

May 9th, 2012
7:05 am

@Attentive: You have confirmed my suspicions regarding the new VAMs.

They (the “reformers”) realize their destructive initiatives are being held up by the classroom teacher who refuses to turn his/her back on solid pedagogy and curriculum.

They’ve convinced the public that teachers are the enemy and now they are coming in to eliminate those who defy their mandates.

Many of my colleagues seem to believe a change in leadership at the national &/or state level will slow down this train. I tell them they are naive. Both parties are bought and paid for by the true forces behind this movement.

teacher&mom

May 9th, 2012
7:12 am

btw: I love good, honest, and useful feedback from an observation. My best observations came from fellow teachers.

Teacher observations should be used as a tool to help a teacher develop his/her craft, Georgia has never been willing to provide the level of support needed to make teacher observations a useful tool.

When we eliminated the NBCT stipend, we pretty much doomed any possibility of having a robust teacher-teacher observation system. A teacher who has completed the NBCT certification is well prepared to observe and HELP other teachers strengthen their craft.

Like too many initiatives in GA, we implement a protocol haphazardly, and never seek input from those most affected…the classroom teacher.

teacher&mom

May 9th, 2012
7:13 am

lost a comment in moderation that referenced AP’s 3:37 AM post.

bootney farnsworth

May 9th, 2012
7:19 am

only to a point. while firsthand observation is a good thing, the very fact they are in the classroom observing alters the environment and therefor the outcome.

but damned if I can think of something better

johnny too good

May 9th, 2012
7:28 am

I would say observations arent completely reliable, many teachers just put on a show for administrators for about 10 -15

Eyes Rolling

May 9th, 2012
7:33 am

Let me summarize here: it’s not okay to evaluate whether a teacher is any good based on whether their students have learned anything (because, if you read this blog, giving the kids a test and making decisions based on the results is the worst thing ever), and you apparently can’t evaluate a teacher based on watching them work…

So apparently you can’t evaluate a teacher at all, except by taking them at their word when they tell you how wonderful they are.

Got it. The standard educrat mantra: “Give us more money, and give us less accountability, and if you don’t do both those things, it’s because YOU HATE THE CHILDREN!!!”

Really?

May 9th, 2012
7:38 am

As a professor in a large university who has been teaching each semester for the past 24 years, the evaluation of a lecture and lecturer is difficult at best. Teaching is a performance art. Part of the job is to instruct, part to entertain (really). Analogously to that of a rock, country or jazz performer’s concert, some will be better than others based on the songs chosen (topic in class) and the performer’s enthusiasm and other aspects that are hard to describe, even as the performer (whether one is ‘on’). There lies the rub. Add to that a sample of the concert (30 min of the class) and it’s no wonder the instrument yields variable results.

Entitlement Society

May 9th, 2012
7:50 am

How about video monitoring? If they are with the students, there should be nothing to hide or keep private…

teacher&mom

May 9th, 2012
8:00 am

@Entitlement: Bill Gates just loves folks like you. You fill his tiny heart with pride.

Clayton

May 9th, 2012
8:01 am

In Clayton County we have what is called E-walks by adminstration and county visitors. These walks only place stress in the teacher. There is no way a 10-20 minute visit can let the visitor know what is going on in the lesson!! The comments I have received from these visits are crazy. Most of the time it is clear the person doing the observation has no idea what the lesson was designed to teach. There is never a positive comment only negative!! How can we always be doing the wrong thing??

I'm a teacher

May 9th, 2012
8:08 am

Why does every teacher need to be observed so many times every year – once you have a teacher that is known to be a good teacher – consistently scores high on observations, kids show improvement on tests (notice I do not say score high on state tests because the best indicator is improvement – not how high they score on one test), good classroom discipline, etc. Why treat that teacher the same as a new / unknown teacher or one who has shown problems.
As to the Teacher Keys observations – my school is one of the pilot sites – I teach 3 courses – all of my observations happened during one class because of the scheduling of the observer. How is this an accurate portrayal of my overall teaching (the class was a small AP class by the way)

Inman Park Boy

May 9th, 2012
8:11 am

As a practicing school principal I struggle year in and year out with teacher assessment. (By the way, the “Professor” above is correct in saying that teaching is in part a “performance art”.) I have supervised teachers in every grade level, PK-4 to 12, and each grade calls for different skills and talents. The real magic occurs in grades K-2, when teachers take little bright eyed children and teach them to read. There is NO more important skill; a really good reading teacher is worth her/his weight in gold. But most children at that age WANT to learn, they are almost desperate to learn. It is when the child reaches middle school that the task often turns “dirty,” so to speak. Really good middle school teachers are few in number. I see magnificent elementary school teachers every day; I have worked with some brilliant high school teachers who take their students to the very highest levels of achievement. It is the middle school teachers who struggle most, not necessarily because they are not good teachers but more often because the middle grades child is so difficult to understand. (By the way, if I could wave a magic wand I’d close every middle school in the country and either go back to the junior high system or go to what Atlanta had for decades, that being a K-7 elementary school and a 8-12 high school. It worked, people.) At any rate, classroom observations are important, but there are other factors and this subject could consume books and books of writings. Suffice it to say, most of us (teachers and administrators) are doing our best in spite of useless federal and state intervention into assessment. As for standardized tests? By and large a waste oif time and money.

Lars

May 9th, 2012
8:24 am

Once upon a time, when a school hired a person whom they believed, after a long interview process, was someone they considered to be competent, they usually left them alone unless they had a good reason to think she wasn’t doing her job. An occasional walk in is usually of more benefit to the administrator than the teacher. Otherwise, they are a waste of time.

I'm a teacher

May 9th, 2012
8:27 am

There are different forms of good teaching – there are teachers who set high standards and get students to perform to those standards, there are teachers who take the students who have basically given up and can get them to care again (btw their test scores are generally not very high), there are teachers who are involved in the extra curricular aspects of school (clubs, sports, honor societies etc) there are teachers who work with kids who have emotional issues (diagnosed like autism, ADD/ADHD, as well as ones who are dealing with bullying, deaths of close family members etc),
There are many ways of being a good teacher – test scores and good observations do not measure those.

WAR

May 9th, 2012
8:37 am

one observation doesnt give a true picture. 3 or 4 can help. but who has time for that stuff.

Mary Elizabeth

May 9th, 2012
8:58 am

“Bill and Melinda Gates (and Eli and Edith Broad) need to realize that some things are just not quantifiable. But, both of these families, although altruistic in outward appearance, surely realize the billions and billions of dollars that they can tap into once they get their claws totally wrapped around this bonanza called public education.”
———————————————————————

I am not so sure that the above remarks apply to Gates’ intent, although I do think that other businessmen and women may have that mercenary intent for entering the educational domain. I remain ambiguous about assigning this intent to Gates, however, because he appears to be interested in other humanitarian projects as well as in education.

However, it cannot be denied that Bill Gates, because of the enormous amount of money that he has poured into educational endeavors, has had – and will have – enormous influence in the direction that education will take in our nation. As brilliant as he is, Bill Gates is businessman and he thinks like a businessman. He has not been trained as an educator, and though he has millions of dollars and seems to want to improve education, educators must continue to question the wisdom of all of his outlined educational approaches. Not that all of his approaches to education are without merit, but if he wishes to make education function more like a business, he may be missing understanding how important the “art” of education is to the educational process, as described by some on this thread. Educators must, also, make certain that they continue to have professional autonomy and that they continue to be respected as professionals, even though they do not have the wealth that Gates has. Wealth and business acuity do not, necessarily, equate to creative and productive educational practices.

cris

May 9th, 2012
9:12 am

a quick, unannounced 5-minute walk-through, done 5-6 times a year (during different points in the class – beginning, middle, end) at different times of the year will tell you who is really teaching and who is not. As a teacher, I found it incredible that administrators make an appointment for when they are going to come and observe you….this allows dog and pony shows, which in turn allow teachers who aren’t doing their jobs to continue not doing their jobs. While I would love for administrators to be able to sit and observe an entire class period, it’s not going to tell them any more than what I outlined above. What say you fellow teachers? Would love to hear some opinions…

John Hooper

May 9th, 2012
9:17 am

Funny, in 1980 Georgia began a program designed to document that those seeking certiciation as teachers were competent to hold a professional renewable license. The research and design of the program was sound and the good news was that the program worked. It provided information to school systems on the areas of a beginning teacher’s weaknesses and the basis for which to build a professional development program for that teacher. The good news is that it worked giving those beginning teachers the additional skills and knowledge that the college programs did not provide. The bad news is that it worked. It acutally eliminated some by denying them a professional renewable certificate to teach in Georgia. The bad news is that it worked by eliminating some who had connections in State Government and the General Assembly killed a program that was seen nationally as a model. Now here we are still trying to find answers to a problem that at one time had a solution. Funny? No, sad. Typical Georgia politics. Money,connections and influence impact legislation not the interest of the public and not the interest in what is best of the state’s children.
JohnBoy

jj

May 9th, 2012
9:21 am

30 minutes X 2 = 1 hour per year
180 days X 4 hours per day = 720
1 / 720 = .00139% of the school year.
Name me one other profession that would judge your success or failure based on that?

mathmom

May 9th, 2012
9:21 am

The best way to assess a teacher’s effectiveness is to see how that teacher’s students do at the next level. If my students struggle during subsequent years, I know I could have done a better job, and I am quite a pest about inquiring how they are doing. I really don’t care what an administrator thinks after an observation – I can play that game, and so can my students – because I know that whatever was happening at the time may or may not be representative of what usually occurs in my classroom. I know. My students know. The administrator has no way of knowing.

Elizabeth

May 9th, 2012
9:22 am

Don’t get me started on teacher observations after what happened to me this year. But I will say.. to be really effective, you would need to be in the class every day, or at least enough to have the studetns exhibit NORMAL behavior, not the perfect behavior most display when an administrator is in the room. Since this is not possible, there is no way to make observations perfect. However, they do have to be done. I would rather be evaluated on these than on student test scores. At least I am being evaluated on MY performance instead of another’s performance.

William Casey

May 9th, 2012
9:27 am

Teacher evaluation has never been a strong point of educational administration and the recent movement toward “gotcha mode” has only made it worse. DR. TROTTER’s 6:00 A.M. post identifies part of the problem: teaching is an “art” as well as a science. Inspiring life-long learning in a student is NOT similar to tuning-up an automobile engine or inventing a faster microchip where the results are immediately observable. However, multiple observations by a mentor type observer who is not only trained in pedagogical techniques but is also a subject matter expert has a chance to help significantly. Using building level administrators to evaluate teachers is doomed to failure. There IS a SOLUTION.

Hey Teacher

May 9th, 2012
9:33 am

The expectation at my school is that an administrator should be able to drop in on any class at any time and see a well-rehearsed “show”. I was observed on a day when my students were writing in class, and the comment I received was that writing an essay was not engaging. The Class Keys observation instrument is looking for a very scripted kind of “performance” from the teacher — its very stressful and artificial. I’ve seen great teachers receive poor evaluations because they didn’t do something as simple as post an agenda for the day or have a designated warm-up activity. I used to welcome admin into my classroom but sadly now I fear them.

William Casey

May 9th, 2012
9:35 am

What’s the SOLUTION? Intense observation by people who are expert in their subject, teaching methods and the psychology of learning would be an excellent start. Even the best teachers need a lot of feedback and they don’t currently receive much. Having a parent visiting every single class (or as many as possible) as an observer would be a good second step. It’s amazing what having a second adult in a classroom does for the learning environment. This would not be as expensive as one might think. The number of administrators could be reduced and staff development largely eliminated. Also, every teacher would not need to be evaluated every year, maybe once every three years. Student standardized test scores could be part of the evaluation process but not the core of it. Testing is a much too blunt instrument.

Entitlement Society

May 9th, 2012
9:36 am

If administration doesn’t have time, how about parent observation? My children’s private school allows parents to drop by unannounced and sit quietly to observe. It doesn’t disrupt the classroom, both the teachers (yes, 2 per classroom) and students are familiar with the practice. This openness displays that there is nothing to hide. The teachers are doing a wonderful job. If there was something amuck, it would certainly come to light.

William Casey

May 9th, 2012
9:39 am

Teacher evaluation should be conducted as follows:

1. It should be done by individuals with more than ten years experience in teaching the specific subject.
2. It should be done by people outside the schools. Trained retirees would work well as evaluators.
3. It should be based on at least ten observations.
4. It should include close examination of the teacher’s plans and materials

Maureen Downey

May 9th, 2012
9:42 am

@entitlement, I would be curious to know what the parent visits yield. I find that parents look at events, school plays, soccer tournaments, volleyball, through the narrow and natural lens of “How did my child do? Did the teacher call on my child enough? Did the coach play my child enough? Was the teacher encouraging to my kid when she flubbed the answer? ”
There may be those rare parents who can step back from their personal interest and see a big picture, but I would think most see the world from their child’s filter.
Maureen

johnny too good

May 9th, 2012
10:03 am

@William Casey …. I agree with those four criteria, except #2………. people outside the schools or unfamiliar with the classroom rarely know anything about whats goin on in a classroom.
Which is one reason why these politically motivated education reforms rarely work

William Casey

May 9th, 2012
10:06 am

@MAUREEN: You are absolutely correct about the parental filter. However, simply having parents in classrooms improves instruction.

Ben Bowen

May 9th, 2012
10:07 am

I found Ms.Downey’s column to be informative, insightful and timely.It reminds me that all things cannot be well quantified. Just ask those who did the mathmatical models that projected the default rates for subprime home mortgages.
Her column had the dual benefit of making a good point and bringing back high school memories.

I remember the time in Ms. Hendrix’s 10th grade english class that Bert Calhoun thought it would be a good idea to…… but that’s another story.

William Casey

May 9th, 2012
10:13 am

@JOHNNY: you are correct…. up to a point. That’s why there needs to be ten or more observations and a fair amount of time spent with the teacher outside of the classroom. However, having building-level people evaluate teaching brings cronyism, corruption and non-classroom issues into the evaluation equation. Very bad.

Entitlement Society

May 9th, 2012
10:25 am

@Maureen-
For me (and most of my friends), our visits are rare, as the education process is already running smoothly. I just like to see my children “in their element.” They actually seem to forget that I am even sitting there in the corner! What I hope to take away from the visit is a glimpse into the current unit, how the teacher is presenting it, and think how we can reinforce it at home. In elementary school there isn’t a great deal of written homework, so we do a lot of “talking” about various topics that they cover in school and how they relate to everyday life and our community or the world. My visit isn’t intended to critique the teacher, although I wouldn’t hesitate to pass on any deficiencies if I observed some. Fortunately, that hasn’t been the case. I think the open door policy helps alleviate having anything to hide. It really facilitates parent involvement more than anything. Teachers must like it or they wouldn’t offer it. (It is NOT mandatory.)

Howard Finkelstein

May 9th, 2012
10:38 am

“which are supposed to occur twice a year and last 30 minutes each.”

LOL…laughable and stupid.

Eyes Rolling

May 9th, 2012
10:38 am

Don’t be surprised by Maureen’s response. Like most educrats, she considered parents (especially the ones who’d dare to think that the time-serving bottom-feeder their child has been bureaucratically sentenced to for a year of their life has no clue) the enemy. The more parents are kept in the dark they are about what actually happens (and doesn’t happen) behind the door of the classroom, the happier the educrats are.

Howard Finkelstein

May 9th, 2012
10:48 am

Entitlement Society

May 9th, 2012
10:25 am

Impressive…an entire paragraph dedicated to saying absolutely nothing.

Ron F.

May 9th, 2012
10:49 am

“Even with an idealized simulated data set, Guarino said, the results of her team’s work have shown variability in measurement.”

Well, DUH! No matter how “scientific” you make it, humans viewing and rating the performance of humans cannot be 100% objective, nor should it be. I love having different people observe me teaching. Their feedback will differ and in between it all there is some truth for me to learn and apply. It never will be objective, and shouldn’t be.

“They (the “reformers”) realize their destructive initiatives are being held up by the classroom teacher who refuses to turn his/her back on solid pedagogy and curriculum.

They’ve convinced the public that teachers are the enemy and now they are coming in to eliminate those who defy their mandates.”

And it seems they’ll never get the fact that they just need to get our support by treating us fairly. Instead they think there’s this magical pool of young, eager, infinitely qualified teachers out there somewhere. Yeah right!

Maureen Downey

May 9th, 2012
10:50 am

#Eyes, Don’t think parents are the enemy, but also think it is very hard for parents to separate out their child’s own experience when assessing any program. I get emails every day from parents unhappy about some of the best schools, public and private, in the state. They believe the school failed their child and thus is a bad school. I think there are bad fits for kid — both in public and private schools — but it doesn’t mean the school fails all kids.
I read an interesting study years ago on employee surveys of management. The study found that employees are not great judges of a manager’s effectiveness in terms of the bottom line because they rated managers based on such things as whether managers let them have a day off or asked about their kids. Employees evaluated their managers through a personal scale of how they related to them and whether they were “nice,” according to the study, rather than whether the manager was effective for the company. It is not a question of people being stupid, but being guided by their own naural self interest and personal needs.
Maureen

Ron F.

May 9th, 2012
10:51 am

Eyes Rolling: If you spent some time in a school, you’d probably be much less cynical about what you see. There are some who aren’t doing the job, but by far the majority are very consistently doing it day in and day out. Come on in and spend a few days watching; you might be pleasantly surprised.

Dr. John Trotter

May 9th, 2012
10:54 am

@ William Casey: You are a very wise man and bring up many good points to take into consideration. Do you mind if I steal a few? Ha! I especially like your encouragement to use observers from outside the school building because so many non-pedagogical issues get in the way of a fair and accurate evaluation. In fact, the building level administrators simply use the evaluation instrument in a manipulative, vindictive, punitive, and retributive manner. We talked about this “I Gotcha” approach in our very first publication at MACE in 1995. This has been plaguing the public schools every since this anal retentive accountability movement came down the California educational pike almost forty years ago. Prior to this, the supervision of teachers was more facilitative, not snoopervisory, in nature.

William, you and I are probably old enough to remember those good ole days, right? Ha! And, we both cut our teach teaching at Southwest DeKalb High, right? I still long for the days when teaching was actually fun, and teachers looked forward to getting to school each day to interact with the kids. Now, these evil-spirited and myopic educrats and weasel-administrators have turned an exciting profession into a hellish drudgery. They remind me of Imps from Hell! Ha!

http://www.theteachersadvocate.com

Mountain Man

May 9th, 2012
10:58 am

Just don’t forget about the observations of administrators – especially in how they deal with discipline issue sent to the office.

Jefferson

May 9th, 2012
10:59 am

Anybody ever try to make cornbread out of flour ?

Jessica

May 9th, 2012
11:05 am

I’m starting to get the idea that many teachers don’t think they should be subject to ANY sort of performance review. No matter how it’s done, teachers (or others who represent the interests of teachers) complain about how awful it is. Testing is bad for a long list of reasons, classroom observation is too subjective, parents are too stupid to see the ‘big picture,’ etc. Apparently, there is NO ONE qualified to evaluate teachers, not even other teachers, and all methods of performance review are biased, ineffective, too rigid, unfair, too bureaucratic, and/or too much work.

Entitlement Society

May 9th, 2012
11:15 am

@ Jessica, you hit the nail on the head! Wouldn’t you love to hear who/how IS qualified to evaluate them? Why is this only an issue in public schools? Can’t procedures be borrowed from successful private school models? Instead of labeling them as “evil” as many love to do on this blog, why not learn from a system with greater teacher satisfaction and not all of the griping seen on this blog?

Teaching in FL is worse

May 9th, 2012
11:25 am

I wouldn’t know…my review was done without an observation!

William Casey

May 9th, 2012
11:27 am

In my six years teaching in two private schools I was never evaluated on my instruction. That was in the ’80’s. Maybe things have changed.