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The Ineffective Rating Fetish

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Politicians and billionaires want teacher evaluation systems to fire people. Teachers want teacher evaluation to improve upon their craft and give credibility to their work. The literature criticizes teacher evaluation systems when they force administrators to judge performance based on a rubric full of "do's" and "dont's". Teaching is as much art as it is labor, maybe even more so skewed toward the former. Artists cannot be judged by rubrics. What works best is appointing the right principals who adapt a management-by-walking around mentality, while allowing for secondary personnel to take care of scheduling, paperwork, etc... Principals should visit classrooms on a daily basis and regularly interact with students and staff DURING the teaching/learning process. Time and money should be granted our principals for such tasks. And this mentoring process should involve administrators that are seasoned, veteran teachers with decades of experience, not some quack that taught for 5 or 10 years and couldn't handle it anymore and moved up. Teachers don't mind evaluation as long as clear expectations are set, we stick to qualitative, narrative feedback, and we aim to help - not fire.

Frankly, this principal does not understand the importance of "differentiating" and sorting teachers into categories. The focus should always be on improvement. I cannot tell you how sad I feel after a year of NY's APPR. The thoughtful evaluations that I used to write have been replaced by a silly rubric checklist with points. It is easier for me...it hardly requires thought. Is that what reformers were hoping to accomplish? It is all sound and fury, Matt, signifying nothing.

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