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On Teacher Evaluation: Slow Down And Get It Right

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The challenges and delays you describe could be minimized if we could escape the grip of test-score fetishization. Why are we so determined to be unique in the world for our willingness to try evaluating incredibly complex work through incredibly simplistic tools, distorted with complex and subjective formulations and calibrations? No top-performing countries are doing this. No independent schools I've ever heard of are doing this. And why not? Because it's actually not that hard to do evaluations well - it's merely hard to do it well in the current economy and political climate. Good evaluations are time-consuming, and therefore, expensive. Or, if we make it less time-consuming for individual evaluators by distributing the responsibility, it's expensive to train more evaluators. Let's be honest about that and decide what we can do about it. And maybe, several years from now, when there's enough data to evaluate CCSS assessments, we'll find we actually improved evaluations in the interim, without having to reduce a student's "growth" to a test score. Let teachers and their evaluators choose a variety of actual student work to examine as part of evaluation, and help teachers focus on the most important work they do in any and every subject and setting. If anyone ever proposed evaluating my work as a high-school English teacher based on the shoddy tests currently used by California, I'd fight it every step of the way. I'm very thankful I've never worked for a school or district that insulted my work or my intelligence, or my students, by suggesting there was anything useful for us in the simplistic and flawed tests we've had throughout my career.

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