Can Georgia learn from Tennessee’s review of its new teacher evals?

Tennessee is ahead of Georgia in developing a teacher evaluation system that considers student outcomes, a factor in its early receipt of a federal Race to the Top grant. (Georgia won its $400 million grant in round two.)

In response to concerns about the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, the state undertook a study that was released this week.

Here are highlights of the Tennessee study, but those of you interested in this issue — and how it may play out in Georgia, which is poised to roll out its new teacher eval system this year — ought to read the full report:

In July 2011, Tennessee became one of the first states in the country to implement a comprehensive, student outcomes-based, statewide educator evaluation system. This landmark legislation established the parameters of a new teacher and principal evaluation system and committed to implementation during the 2011-12 school year.

The act required 50 percent of the evaluation to be comprised of student achievement data —35 percent based on student growth as represented by the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System  or a comparable measure and the other 15 percent based on additional measures of student achievement adopted by the state Board of Education and chosen through mutual agreement by the educator and evaluator. The remaining 50 percent of the evaluation is determined through qualitative measures such as teacher observations, personal conferences and review of prior evaluations and work.

Implementation of the evaluation system began at the start of the 2011-12 school year. The department made a concentrated effort to solicit and encourage feedback, meeting with teachers and administrators across the state.

While administrators continued to tout the system’s impact on instruction, the public discussion about teacher evaluation began to detract from the real purpose of the evaluation system: improving student achievement. In response, Gov. Haslam, supported by legislative leadership, tasked the State Collaborative on Reforming Education with conducting an independent review of the system through a statewide listening and feedback process and producing a report to the state Board of Education and department outlining a range of policy considerations.

Through our feedback gathering process, common themes have emerged:

•Administrators and teachers — including both supporters and opponents of the evaluation model — believe the TEAM rubric effectively represents high-quality instruction and facilitates rich conversations about instruction.

• Administrators consistently noted that having school-wide value-added scores has led to increased collaboration among teachers and a higher emphasis on academic standards in all subjects.

• Administrators and teachers both feel too many teachers have treated the rubric like a checklist rather than viewing it as a holistic representation of an effective lesson, and both groups feel additional training is needed on this point.

• Teachers in subjects and grades that do not yield an individual value-added score do not believe it is fair to have 35 percent of their evaluation determined by school-wide scores.

• Implementation of the 15 percent measure has not led to selection of appropriate measures, with choices too often dictated by teacher and principal perceptions of which measure would generate the highest score rather than an accurate reflection of achievement.

• Administrators consistently noted the large amount of time needed to complete the evaluation process. In particular, administrators want to spend less time observing their highest performing teachers and more time observing lower performing teachers. Additionally, they feel the mechanics of the process (e.g., data entry) need to be more streamlined and efficient.

•Both administrators and teachers consistently felt better about the system as the year progressed, in part due to familiarity with the expectations and because of changes that allowed for fewer classroom visits during the second semester.

• Local capacity to offer high-quality feedback and to facilitate targeted professional development based on evaluation results varies considerably across districts.

The 2011-12 school year saw tremendous progress for public education in Tennessee, as measured by the most significant outcome – student achievement. Test scores improved, in aggregate, at a faster rate than any previously measured year. Math and science scores, in particular, increased significantly, moving students forward against rigorous, nationally benchmarked standards. To put this into perspective, 55,000 more students are at or above grade level in math than in 2010; 38,000 more students are at or above grade level in science. This growth and achievement represents real change in the academic trajectory and potential life options for Tennessee students and can be the very real difference between long-term success and failure.

Observation Results

Teacher observation results from year one are encouraging and demonstrate more meaningful differentiation than ever before. However, they also indicate that as a state, we must more accurately and consistently reflect the true spectrum of teacher performance. While there was concern among educators in the early stages of training and implementation that few teachers would receive observation scores demonstrating performance exceeding expectations, results show that more than 75 percent of teachers scored a 4 or a 5 (scores demonstrating performance exceeding expectation) with less than 2.5 percent scoring a 1 or 2 (scores demonstrating performance below expectations). While these scores dispel the myth that teachers cannot receive high scores on the observation rubric, when considered alongside student achievement results, they demand reflection and thoughtful consideration. For example, while scores for teachers exceeding expectations on observations were aligned with those receiving scores of 4 or 5 based on student achievement growth, this same alignment did not occur for those teachers performing at the lowest levels in terms of student outcomes.

Recommendations:

•Measurement of the quantitative impact on student performance. This includes an examination of both the 35 percent of evaluation scores driven by TVAAS and the 15 percent achievement measure selected by teachers and principals. In particular, we must ensure that as many teachers as possible have effective means of measuring impact on students, and we must consider what additional weight the quantitative portion of the evaluation should be given for teachers who do not have access to individual metrics.
•Changes to the qualitative rubric. This area focuses on ways to maintain the many pieces of the rubric that allow teachers and administrators to have strong discussions about instruction, while streamlining areas that were redundant or less effective in facilitating conversations.
• Increases in process efficiencies. We want to ensure that administrators are spending their time on observations and on feedback conversations, not on entering data into systems. Additionally, administrators should spend time with the teachers who need the most help.
• Management of district implementation. We must ensure that districts apply the evaluation system fairly, while still allowing for significant local innovation. We must also ensure that districts provide robust feedback and professional development to teachers who currently lack the skills to advance student achievement effectively

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

51 comments Add your comment

Good Grief!

July 17th, 2012
3:46 am

“Teachers in subjects and grades that do not yield an individual value-added score do not believe it is fair to have 35 percent of their evaluation determined by school-wide scores”.

” Implementation of the 15 percent measure has not led to selection of appropriate measures, with choices too often dictated by teacher and principal perceptions of which measure would generate the highest score rather than an accurate reflection of achievement”.

As a music teacher, I find it absurd that 35% of my evaluation in Tennessee would be based on my local school student test scores from the four core areas (English, Math, Science, and Social Studies). How do these test scores reflect my performance in the classroom as a music teacher? On top of that, 15% of my evaluation is based on me sitting down with my principal and selecting one of these four core areas that I believe will have the highest achievement score at my school. If
I am a good guesser by looking at previous data, I can probably pick the right area to go with. So all in all, 50% of my evaluation is not based on the subject matter I teach and 15% of the 50% is a total gamble. What a joke! And yes, my fellow music colleagues that teach in Tennessee have confirmed that their evaluations were based on these requirements this past year!

Peter Smagorinsky

July 17th, 2012
6:23 am

I sure hope that Rep. Lindsey reads Good Grief!’s comment and realizes what a preposterous system Tennessee has adopted, and works against such a system in Georgia.

Pride and Joy

July 17th, 2012
7:07 am

This is encouraging “To put this into perspective, 55,000 more students are at or above grade level in math than in 2010; 38,000 more students are at or above grade level in science.”
It worked.
Such good news.
I can only cross my fingers and hope GA will do the same.

redweather

July 17th, 2012
7:17 am

This caught my eye: “while scores for teachers exceeding expectations on observations were aligned with those receiving scores of 4 or 5 based on student achievement growth, this same alignment did not occur for those teachers performing at the lowest levels in terms of student outcomes.”

I take this to mean that student outcomes were positive even when teachers received low scores based on observation. Hmmmm.

another view

July 17th, 2012
7:29 am

It would be interesting to see how the 2011 test compares to 2010’s. Are the cut scores the same or are they lower?

Elizabeth

July 17th, 2012
7:29 am

Let’s see– if 35 per cent of my evaluation is based on student achievement, that means that 61 per cent will be on other things I can’t control, like class size, behavior/discipline, opinions of administrators and parents who think I am too strict, scripted lessons that I MUST teach even if they are garbage, going to useless meetings to “learn” how to teach scripted lessons and standards, other duties– ballgame, bathroom, hall, bus, club sponsorships, covering classes because we have no money for substitutes–, parent conferences, differentiation for all of my140 students, grading papers, turning in “lesson plans” for scripted lessons that are already planned, and myriad other items that crop up. Not to mention being rated by middle school students who have never held a job and have no clue what appropriate classroom behavior should be or any interest in learning. Wow! How lucky I am. I am so lucky that I will end up being rated poorly because of items beyond my control.

Then, make no mistake, I will be forced to sue the school system who rates me poorly and PUBLISHES this rating for all to read. Watch for it. It WILL come.

Randy Glover

July 17th, 2012
7:47 am

If you know a teacher in Tennessee, then you probably have heard stories about the absurdities of the value-added system. The first one I heard about was in Houston, so I called the District office and asked the Assistant Super in charge of the program about it. It was so complicated and frustrating that I was more confused after I hung up. He did say however that they had HIRED some consulting firm to set the system up. Imagine that.
In Georgia, the state department has already said, in essence, ‘Uh, we have no idea how to evaluate Art, P.E. teachers, and administrators, so…. districts come up with your own plan for that.’ Yeah….
Give me 1 week, walking up and down the hall in a school building, and I can show you the good teachers without actually stepping foot into the classroom.
Will the madness never end?

mark

July 17th, 2012
7:51 am

Remember teachers, your pay will be provided if funds exist, not whether or not your evaluation is good, bad or ugly. Race to another career!!!

Formerteacher

July 17th, 2012
8:12 am

Randy Glover- you hit the nail on the head. If administrators would simply walk the halls every day, they would know who was teaching and who was watching movies every other day. They would see which classes were under control and which ones weren’t. Then they could focus their attention on those teachers who need help to improve- that is what a manger does, and administrators are managers. When I was a student, I can remember the principals just stepping into my classes for 5 or 10 minutes, not writing anything down, just watching. That never happened when I was a teacher.

Now, it could be that administrators have 1,001 things on their plates, just like teachers do, that prohibits this walking around. Then we need to decide- are they paper pushers or managers of their staff? If the former, then they don’t need Ed. S. degrees and the pay that goes with them. If the latter, then, as teachers keep saying, let them do their jobs.

dc

July 17th, 2012
8:16 am

sad that the first comments on this blog don’t even acknowledge the positive impact to student performance. Seriously, that really begs to question where the focus is…students (the children!!), or “my career”. I was so encouraged as a taxpayer and parent that there was actual positive impact to the performance of the students…then of course brought back to “education lobby” reality by these blog posts.

Solutions

July 17th, 2012
8:27 am

Even CEO’s get an annual evaluation on which part of their pay and bonus are based. Get rid of tenure for public school teachers! Tenure was developed to protect the intellectual input of college professors who work at the cutting edge of knowledge, but was mistakenly adopted for K-12 teachers for foolish reasons. Even on the University campus, tenure should be ended! As for evaluations, until they are used to remove poor teachers, they are just so much fluff!

Teachers that need observing

July 17th, 2012
8:33 am

Would teachers respond negatively if small cameras and microphones were installed in the ceilings at the rear of classrooms? Camera systems at most schools facilitate a monitoring station where all cameras can be viewed at once or specific cameras only. Both of the administrators at my school have this camera feed on their computers and one of their monitors always displays the cameras (two classrooms contain violent EBD students and being able to keep an “eye on the sky” on these students helps prevent unnecessary destruction). This would save countless hours of administrators wandering in and out of classrooms as well as prevent the “halo effect” that overcomes students and teachers when an administrator comes into their classroom. I have 3 cameras in my classroom due to the large amount of storage and outside entrances (I teach music) and every now and then an administrator will comment on something positive they saw (student engagement) or something that needs correcting (two students exhibiting off-task behaviors). I never get upset and I always take their comments as they are intended: we are professionals and if we can help each other or praise something about our conduct, then we should be open to receiving these comments. For teachers that have poor quality administrators, though, I can see how something like round-the-clock observing could be a frightening prospect. Personally, I love it.

d

July 17th, 2012
8:51 am

@Randy – I have a friend who teaches German in east Tennessee. Part of his evaluation is based on freshman English. His school doesn’t even allow freshmen to take a foreign language. He is evaluated in part on students he isn’t allowed to teach.

@solutions…. Yes there are bad teachers, but how many do you think really are staying in schools long periods of time that you bring this up? Usually the bad ones go quickly because they can’t handle it and principals don’t have to deal with fair dismissal until they have three years of experience. Tenure isn’t the problem. Any teacher with fair dismissal/tenure can be dismissed easily assuming we free up principals to do their job. I fear this evaluation system will have the unintended consequence of making it harder for principals to do what they need to do when a bad teacher comes in.

I do wish that the people who invent this crazy stuff would understand that test scores do not equal achievement or lack thereof. Let’s see what children can actually do, but unfortunately, those types of assessments take too long, are difficult to grade, and wouldn’t give the immediate feedback a multiple choice test can give.

Another View

July 17th, 2012
8:54 am

Why do these laws get passed? No unions.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

July 17th, 2012
8:57 am

Assuming that SCORE provides a valid, reliable assessment of the TN teacher evaluation system(TES) from the perspective of its efficacy in identifying teachers who prepare TN students for work in a global economy, who is assessing the efficacy of the TN TES in identifying teachers whose students become knowledgeable, thoughtful, responsible citizens?

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

July 17th, 2012
9:00 am

The purpose of the teacher eval is not to determine who the Good teachers are. It is to ensure that all teachers are compliant with the learning centered/interactional/ socially engaging classroom.

The focus is to be on changing the student affectively, not teaching content. That aspect of Common Core was known to me as I read all the collateral official documents related to the actual implementation. But it was officially proclaimed by the National Research Council last Week in its Education for Life and Work document.

I wrote about it last week http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/so-now-common-core-rejects-individual-thinking-to-embrace-soviet-psychology-ecology/

The teacher eval is what forces the teacher to go along with the socio-cultural approach or find a new career.

One final point. Maureen reflexively mentioned outcomes as the goal as does Tennessee.

There’s a reason as I have said consistently. The Common Core is Transformational Outcomes Based Education.

Which I think should be nicknamed mental terrorism but then I think I am going to explain “double-loop feedback” next as I continue to use Australia to show what is coming to the US.

There are even charming documents from OZ on how to coerce principals into rejecting the transmission of knowledge model.

Jerry Eads

July 17th, 2012
9:03 am

There will be MANY examples over the next few years how NOT to do this. Tennessee is clearly one of them.

John Barge’s effort to minimize the impact of student popularity contests affecting hiring/firing is a step in the right direction. I’ve also heard he understands the utter uselessness of minimum competency tests. We have a great deal to worry about in the actual execution of the PAARC tests purporting to measure higher-level skills than the current state tests, but I’m a LOT more hopeful in what I see here than in the abject stupidity being rendered in some other states.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

July 17th, 2012
9:13 am

Oh good. Higher level skills. Yet another unappreciated term. No wonder PARCC is managed by Florida.

Here’s an explanation of higher order thinking. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/what-if-higher-order-thinkingdeliberate-confusion/

It also explains why parents and school board members were told that integrated math and now Common Core would be “rigorous.”

And those are just a few of the terms from the Attentive Parent Education Glossary.

The Dixie Diarist

July 17th, 2012
9:26 am

Lurlene, in a pleasant, supremely measured tone, said that you don’t know this … but now you do … but I slip into the printer room right next to your Cozy Room of Learning and listen through the little service window into your classroom to all the fascinating educational opportunities you offer the kids. That’s how. I spy on you all the time.

http://www.adixiediary.com

lyncoln

July 17th, 2012
9:28 am

redweather,

I agree with your observation. I read the whole report about what they consider is a disconnect between teacher observation scores and value-added student scores on the tests.

Using the observation rubric 97.6% of teachers scored a 3,4 or 5 (the average score was higher than 4.0)

According to the study, 16.5% of the students’ value added score was calculated as a 1 statewide.

So, the report concludes that the observations are not providing correct feedback to teachers. They apparently believe that if a teacher is observed doing a good job, their students must be learning and should have closely related value added results.

Apparently there is no possible way that the value-added calculation might be flawed, or that there might be things other than the teacher that might change a student’s learning during a school year. What a disappointing conclusion from the study.

Mikey D.

July 17th, 2012
9:43 am

@solutions
There is no tenure in Georgia. You are perpetuating a myth, not reality. In Georgia, there is something called fair dismissal rights. It doesn’t say you can’t be fired. It simply says you can’t be fired without cause. Just out of curiosity, why do you think that’s a bad thing? I mean, it’s obvious that you hold teachers in contempt, but do you really hate them so much that you think they should be able to be fired based on the whims of an administrator, rather than for a good reason?

Formerteacher

July 17th, 2012
9:57 am

redweather and lyncoln- this is why I’m not sure we can ever truly, accurately assess a teacher’s impact on student achievement. Not that we ought not evaluate teachers and their skills and help them improve where needed, but there are too many outside influences to control for to be able to honestly say “Mr. Smith taught little Jimmy X amount.” How do you account for what Jimmy’s previous teachers taught him? In the cases in TN where lower observation scores didn’t automatically mean lower student achievement, it could be due to the students’ home lives, previous teachers, or their own innate talents.

I still say it goes back to administrators walking the halls. I keep thinking about the SC justice who said something like, “I can’t define pornography, but I know it when I see it.” I think anyone with the sense God gave a goose could know good teaching when they see it. But they have to see it, and see it not just once or twice a school year, but week in and week out.

living in an outdated ed system

July 17th, 2012
10:36 am

Georgia can learn a great deal from Tennessee. There’s a good reason why TN came in second in the RTTT awards. They have some of the most progressive minds in urban education reform. Jesse Register, head of MNPS, has done remarkable turnaround work, not just in Nashville, but in Chattanooga as well. The concept of “Learning Academies” in the high schools in Nashville is spot on.

Where are the revolutionary ideas for Georgia? They won’t be found on this blog, because most everyone thinks that money is the problem. It’s not the $ that’s the problem, it’s how the $ is spent that is the problem. There are so many defensive teachers on this blog. Teachers are being scapegoated. They are not the problem. The “system” is the problem. When you all recognize this, then perhaps Georgia can start finding real solutions. And until that “judgement day” cometh, I have no problem with giving some public charter schools and virtual school designs a chance to give our kids a quality education, and maybe, just maybe, our traditional public schools will start to embrace digital learning, and integrate some of the new school designs. But the system has to be fixed to allow such innovation.

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t bet on that happening anytime soon. I hate to be a pessimist, but it’s going to get worse before it gets better around here.

Google "NEA" and "donations"

July 17th, 2012
10:54 am

I wonder if those above who are critical of ANY evaluation system incorporating test scores (i.e., actual learning results) would feel the same in looking for a doctor/hospital to treat their own seriously ill child?

Would demonstrated success in restoring patients’ health be an unfair or irrelevant thing to consider?

Google "NEA" and "union"

July 17th, 2012
10:59 am

@ Mikey D:

It’s obvious that you hold taxpayers and parents in contempt, but do you really hate them so much that you think they shouldn’t be able to readily fire under-performing teachers?

Active in Cherokee

July 17th, 2012
11:08 am

“To put this into perspective, 55,000 more students are at or above grade level in math than in 2010; 38,000 more students are at or above grade level in science.”

I hope everything here is legit, but remember when APS and DC huge their largest increases ever?

bootney farnsworth

July 17th, 2012
11:09 am

@ mikey

we do have tenure. we don’t have unions

bootney farnsworth

July 17th, 2012
11:11 am

what are the criteria of the value added bit?
who created it, and who makes the judgments?

until I know more about that, my early and reluctant opinion is its a good bad model.

bootney farnsworth

July 17th, 2012
11:14 am

@ outdated ed

many systems have embraced distance ed. problem is they are mostly in the affluent counties.
the poor counties don’t have the resources -system wide and student wide- to afford to embrace
distance ed more fully.

Mikey D.

July 17th, 2012
11:19 am

@google
You are a troll, and as such this is the last time I will respond to you. Poor teachers can be “readily fired”. Happens all the time. All it takes is an administrator with the motivation to put in the leg work and documentation required to do it legally. I’ve seen it happen numerous times with my own administrator.

bootney farnsworth

July 17th, 2012
11:19 am

@ outdated ed

you are DEAD ON about the money issue. there is virtually no oversight, no restrictions, and no accountability on how the money is spent.

the USG gets a lump sum every year, and the legislators (admittedly not the best choice for fiscal balance) has no right or ability to influence how its spent. so the USG is the fox guarding its own henhouse.

and yet they were genuinely surprised when when GPC spent itself into oblivion

d

July 17th, 2012
11:34 am

Test scores and student achievement are nt the same thing. I do not mind being evaluated on student achievement – what a student can actually do. Remember, our curriculum is called Georgia Performance Atandards,

d

July 17th, 2012
11:35 am

Test scores and student achievement are nt the same thing. I do not mind being evaluated on student achievement – what a student can actually do. Remember, our curriculum is called Georgia Performance Standards, not Georgia Pick-the-best-answer-on-a-flawed-test Standards.

d

July 17th, 2012
11:36 am

Sorry for the duplicate post, trying to correct my typo and actually pressed submit.

Google "NEA" and "union"

July 17th, 2012
11:37 am

@ Mikey D: Are we to infer that all who disagree with you are “trolls?” Those for instance who exposed the infamous Rubber Rooms, where ineffective New York City teachers while away time at taxpayer expense … while their dismissal cases drag on interminably (as per union rules).

The rest of us viewed the film Waiting for Superman and were revulsed. But not you?

living in an outdated ed system

July 17th, 2012
11:46 am

@Bootney – you are unfortunately wrong on your point about digital technology only being in affluent communities. And I NEVER said anything about distance learning! Why did you assume that’s what I meant? There is a successful model called blended learning, and that could have easily saved Tech High, for example.

I think if you did further research on this, you would realize that the digital divide has narrowed considerably.

Pride and Joy

July 17th, 2012
12:00 pm

D, you say “I do not mind being evaluated on student achievement – what a student can actually do.”
If not a test, then how would you effectively measure what a student can actually do?
Please be specific.

d

July 17th, 2012
12:51 pm

@pride – portfolios, essays, models, etc. Show me what you can do, make, etc.

Formerteacher

July 17th, 2012
1:44 pm

d- exactly! Those kinds of measures would be much more indicative of what a student knows. I taught Spanish, so much of my grading was based on oral exams, which gave me a much better feel for what the kids understood than having them regurgitate something on a written test. And I preferred not to use multiple choice questions when I did give written tests so I could see what they knew, not what they could guess.

The problem with instituting portfolios and such on a large scale is the time needed to grade it and the subjectivity issue. Not saying it can’t be done, but when the state BOE just awarded multi-million dollar contracts for GCRCT and the accompanying “stuff” it’s obvious we won’t be looking at anything but bubble sheets for a long time.

Pride and Joy

July 17th, 2012
3:22 pm

d — can you provide some more details please for “portfolios, essays, models, etc. Show me what you can do, make, etc”
A portfolio of what? How do you measure a student’s achievement in math using a portfolio or model?
Essays would be wonderful to measure English and Language Arts but I am not sure how you mean you would measure math and science and social studies and physical education using portfolios and models. Please elaborate.

d

July 17th, 2012
4:20 pm

@Pride, in social studies, there are a number of skills students can demonstrate proficiency on such as analyzing maps, charts, graphs, political cartoons etc and write about those. Students can also demonstrate analytical reasoning with concepts in history class. These could be portfolio entries. In science, students can use laboratory skills and show understanding through the scientific method questioning, hypothesising, etc. Students can demonstrate their ability to apply math skills in real-world scenarios. It doesn’t have to all come down to the multiple choice tests. I truly believe that these forms of assessment will show the students’ ability and knowledge much more accurately than the multiple choice tests.

HS Math Teacher

July 17th, 2012
9:44 pm

Georgia is just nibbling at the margins, and not really attacking the core problems in public education. Nothing much is going to change. People who have common sense and financial means are pulling their kids out of traditional public schools, and are putting them in private schools, charter schools, or even taking the radical step of home schooling.

Teacher evaluations? What a laugh.

long time educator

July 17th, 2012
9:49 pm

Does no one else see the contradiction of dictating and judging me on scripted lesson plans and also holding me accountable for student achievement? It should be one or the other, but not both. Give me the standards, let me choose the method, and judge me on student achievement. If someone else dictates my methods, test scores should be an evaluation of the methods and not me.

redweather

July 18th, 2012
7:48 am

@d, You have supplied good examples of how to measure critical thinking. Multiple choice tests typically don’t measure that. And that is why so many of the college freshman I see are weak critical thinkers.

d

July 18th, 2012
8:42 am

@redweather Unfortunately, EOCTs are going to be part of Georgia’s CCRPI…. but so are the number of college freshmen requiring remedial courses. Which do you think is going to be the larger focus?

@long time educator – great point!

redweather

July 18th, 2012
9:52 am

@d, I suspect we already know the answer to that question. It’s a classic Catch-22 situation. Many people who are up in arms about how many college students need remedial work don’t seem nearly as concerned about the prevalence of testing on the high school level that in no way prepares students to do college work.

Many freshman who are weak in critical thinking skills are the products of good schools and families in which education is emphasized. But try to test their ability to think critically and I often find that their understanding of an issue–and I’m not talking about anything all that complex–is paper thin. They are also easily frustrated and quick to assume that I am asking them to do something that is beyond their capabilities. And unfortunately, I am, because they haven’t been required to sift through data and then develop ways of analyzing, responding to, and utilizing it.

Getting a basic high school and/or college education is all about (1) learning how to learn and (2) applying what has been learned in any number of different situations that may have nothing to do with a specific subject. As far as I can tell, this is news to a lot of people who seem to think an education is about information gathering and retrieval. If a student doesn’t know what to do with the information, there is no point in knowing how to retrieve it.

Okay, end of rant.

ChristieS.

July 18th, 2012
12:42 pm

@ redweather: “If a student doesn’t know what to do with the information, there is no point in knowing how to retrieve it.”

Exactly. ^5.

[...] Can Georgia Learn from Tennessee’s Review of New Teacher Evaluations? [...]

Eric

July 19th, 2012
8:26 am

Sounds just horrible! Very sorry for the teachers. How did we manage to have such fine public schools back in the 1970-1980s without such a juggernaut of an evaluation system?

[...] links this week about teacher evaluations: a study of Tennessee’s system and a piece showing the multitude of opinions on the [...]