One Fallacy in Teacher Evaluation

Pensive ParakeetDo you ever wonder who these people are who make these laws that have no validity in reality? Let’s take, for example, the evaluation of teachers based on, student test scores. As far as I know, no other business or organization evaluates one person’s performance based on another person’s performance as teacher performance is based on student performance.

Here’s a scenario that should pretty much sum up the fallacy in this evaluation of teacher competency. Teacher A has a classroom full of students enrolled in a physical science class. These students have to take this course as a requirement to graduate and for the most part could care less about what they learn. Teacher B has a classroom full of students who are enrolled in a biology class and while some are there for credit most enrolled as an elective. Teacher A and Teacher B both prepare their lessons, both teach through lectures, group activities and lab work. Both council students who need extra attention and both give weekly quiz, midterm exams, and final exams. At the end of the year 25 percent of A students fail with another 15 percent receiving a D-. Teacher B fails 1 percent of his class with another 2 percent receiving a D.  All students must take the State test. State exam are scored advanced (level 1), proficient (level 2), partially proficient (level 3) and not proficient (level 4).

The scores come back from the state office and Teacher A finds 15 percent of his students scored not proficient 20 percent scored partially proficient on the state test. Teacher B finds only 3 percent of his students scored partially proficient or less. Teacher A is told he will not be hired back due to the poor performance by his students. Teacher B is given a very good evaluation. While some consideration was given to how much rapport teachers had with students, teaching style, and past performances, because 50 percent of the teacher’s evaluation was based on student performance and that was measured mostly by state test scores, Teacher A was told he would not be hired back.

No consideration was given considering student input, student attitude toward learning, or even students ability. Most teachers within the first marking period can pick out those students who will perform well in the class and those who will not. Most teachers can bring those students around who struggle to comprehend the subject if the student 1) is willing to cooperate and 2) has the cognitive ability to learn.  And here is where the fallacy in reality hits home. Not all students can learn at the same rate. In fact not all students can learn what teachers teach. The reality is some students do not have the cognitive ability comprehend certain concepts. For example some people may never be able to solve calculus problems, others may never understand physics, yet we expect teachers will reach every student.

Now getting back to teachers A and B; A teacher is fired not because of his performance as a teacher, but because of the results of the students’ performance. The past 3 years teacher A may have had a group of students who scored proficient on the state test and 90 percent of his students passed the class, but that would not have made a difference. That teacher’s evaluation was based on this year’s performance.  And that is the fallacy in reality.


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