How do we measure a teacher’s success? In Ohio, Governor Kasich and the Republican controlled congress placed in the budget that schools have to develop a better teacher evaluation form. It also mandates that teachers need to be evaluated on student success on standardized tests.
Since most people have gone to school, they have an opinion on what makes a good teacher. We have all had good and bad teachers. So, how do we evaluate teachers? How do we evaluate anyone – our children, our pastors, our politicians, our mechanics, doctors, etc.?
Standardized tests may work, if teachers give a test in September and again in June to measure the growth. This would show what a student learned with the one teacher. However, it is only one variable. Other factors can happen to affect the student’s learning and growth. For example, I have seen students effected from the loss of a loved one, parents divorcing, a loved one’s or their own drug and alcohol use/abuse. I have also seen the scars of physical, sexual, and mental abuse. And of course, we can not forget daily factors like eating a good breakfast; arguing with a parent, which happens daily with teenagers; bullies or mean girls in social media; daily drama that surpasses anything found on reality TV. Will the student’s yearly progress report and the subsequent teacher’s evaluation include all of the outside factors?
In considering the evaluations, I think about why I have chosen my church, my doctors, and my mechanic.
I recently switched churches. The pastor at the new church communicates in an effective, understandable manner. My family learns from him. I do not need a test to know this. I know it through our family’s discussions. So, a good teacher knows how to reach his/her audience.
Secondly, I narrowed the choices for my doctors based on my insurance plan. (I have to be realistic.) From that list, I chose doctors and dentists that take the time to ask me questions and seem to care about me. Again, I do not take a test on the information the doctor has told me. I get advice and medicine and work to improve my health. So, a good teacher cares about the students and works to help them improve.
Thirdly, I choose a mechanic because of his/her honesty and knowledge. I do not want to be cheated and I want someone who knows what to do. So, a good teacher must know his/her material and innovative ways to reach students with a multitude of learning styles.
Are standardized tests worth 50% of the teacher evaluation as the state of Ohio is mandating. I don’t think so. It is one part, maybe 20%. The problem is a standardized test is the easy way to measure, not the best way.