Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Grading the Teachers

Larry Sand with a good article defending teacher value-added systems:

Teachers' unions dislike all forms of substantive teacher evaluation, viewing any kind of official differentiation among teachers as encouraging competition, which sows envy and thus undermines solidarity. Truth is, of course, objective evaluations show that some teachers really are more effective than others. To concede as much exposes the union to serious difficulties. Suppose, for example, that the more effective teachers suddenly feel entitled to greater compensation than their less competent peers? And when a school district faces a budget crunch, why shouldn't the more effective teachers be spared pink slips? A seniority system that elevates clock-watchers and ignores teacher quality hardly seems fair to adults or kids.

To make value-added evaluations public only adds insult to injury. The union argues that the Times wrongly trumpeted the results, because the public cannot see the whole picture of a teacher's worth. But the Times, to its credit, advertised that any teacher who so chose could leave a comment next to his or her score. Shortly after the first Times story appeared last year, National Education Association president Dennis Van Roekel tried to dismiss value-added evaluations with a sports analogy. A .250 hitter in baseball, Van Roekel said, may possess other talents that a .350 hitter does not. He's right, of course. But take Van Roekel's analogy one step further. Every day during the baseball season, anyone can pick up a daily newspaper or check the Internet and find out all kinds of things about baseball players—their batting average, errors, home runs, strikeouts, and so forth. The publication of the teachers' value-added scores is no more "teacher bashing" than the publication of hitters' statistics is "batter bashing."


Larry Sand

Grading the Teachers

Ignore the union gripes—value-added teacher evaluations are a useful accountability tool and should be available for public scrutiny.

20 June 2011


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