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  1. #71
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    It's possible to have evaluations. The problem is that it isn't possible to have 100% objective evaluations that cannot be gamed or can account for extenuating circumstances (e.g., the teacher teaching the remedial class should have a different metric than the one teaching the honors class, but how does one do that objectively?). I would suggest having the principles being responsible for hiring/firing teachers (along with setting policies), and using their best judgment (based on both objective and subjective criteria). The principles would then be accountable to the school board, and hired/fired based on their best judgment and policies.

    There are two reasons my suggestion cannot be implemented:
    1. It's a government school system, and the same rules must apply to everyone, no matter how irrational that is. (Student needs don't neatly fit into one-size-fits-all policies.)
    2. It isn't possible to hire/fire at will.


    In the end, it boils down to the fact that normal, everyday hiring/firing is disallowed. That means that it will tend to attract incompetent people (it's the only job they can keep), and repel competent people (who don't enjoy having to work with incompetent people), and the system itself continually gains inertia and loses its flexibility.
    I agree. As I stated earlier, in evaluating teachers or students, we are attempting to measure something that has significant inherent subjectivity. Administrators and supervisors are afraid of that, though, because it requires them to make judgment calls and to be held accountable for them. It is far easier to point to a compilation of numbers to justify personnel decisions, regardless of their correlation with the desired outcomes. That only makes the process impersonal in the worst ways, and rewards those who game the system over those who are able to help kids learn.

    Part of the problem is the nature of standardized tests. If tests were able to measure how well students completed a research paper, interpreted a poem, conducted a chemistry experiment, conversed in French, analyzed a political address, or applied statistics to a decision, their results would be more closely aligned with the real skills and knowledge students need for life. Existing tests sideline development of these fundamental skills by forcing educators to focus on facts that can be regurgitated and cookbook methods that can be memorized and cranked out. Some tests are now incorporating long answer or essay responses. I would be curious as to the rubrics used in evaluating these "objectively".

    (I assume in the above you meant "principals", as in the administrators of schools, rather than "principles" as in basic standards or assumptions. There certainly are principles at stake here as well.)
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  2. #72
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    You take tests to get into college.

    You take tests to get into grad school.

    You take tests to get certified in your profession of choice.

    In many professions, you have to keep taking tests for continuing education in the field.

    I understand all the touchy feely issues with standardized testing, and am sympathetic with them to a point. But what it really boils down to is how the world really works.

    To advance we are tested. Asked to perform under pressure on the spot and on command. While I understand the problem with rote memorization, I recognize the importance of learning to test well. To deal with that stress, and pressure. To perform on command.

    It's more important that my kid learns how to test well, and give the teacher what they want, and perform the tasks asked of them regardless of whether those tasks make sense, than it is that their school caters to them in the most supportive way possible.

    They can figure out how they feel about the world in college. Before that, they need to learn how to succeed in the world that exists.

    EDIT - If tests are adequate to measure the achievement of our children, why are they not up to the task of evaluating the skills of those that teach them?

  3. #73
    Senior Member captain curmudgeon's Avatar
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    I read a pretty good article by Nicholas Kristof that deals with this issue and some other issues as well this morning. Here is the link:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/13/op...er-unions.html
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  4. #74
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    ^ here is the abstract from the Harvard study quoted in that article:

    THE LONG-TERM IMPACTS OF TEACHERS:
    TEACHER VALUE-ADDED AND STUDENT OUTCOMES IN ADULTHOOD


    ABSTRACT

    Are teachers’ impacts on students’ test scores (“value-added”) a good measure of their quality? This
    question has sparked debate largely because of disagreement about (1) whether value-added (VA)
    provides unbiased estimates of teachers’ impacts on student achievement and (2) whether high-VA
    teachers improve students’ long-term outcomes. We address these two issues by analyzing school
    district data from grades 3-8 for 2.5 million children linked to tax records on parent characteristics
    and adult outcomes. We find no evidence of bias in VA estimates using previously unobserved parent
    characteristics and a quasi-experimental research design based on changes in teaching staff. Students
    assigned to high-VA teachers are more likely to attend college, attend higher- ranked colleges, earn
    higher salaries, live in higher SES neighborhoods, and save more for retirement. They are also less
    likely to have children as teenagers. Teachers have large impacts in all grades from 4 to 8. On average,
    a one standard deviation improvement in teacher VA in a single grade raises earnings by about 1%
    at age 28. Replacing a teacher whose VA is in the bottom 5% with an average teacher would increase
    the present value of students’ lifetime income by more than $250,000 for the average class- room in
    our sample. We conclude that good teachers create substantial economic value and that test score impacts
    are helpful in identifying such teachers.

  5. #75
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    Here is the part of that NYT article that utilizes that findings of the Harvard study:

    There’s now solid evidence that there are huge differences in the effectiveness of teachers, even within high-poverty schools. The gold standard study, by Harvard and Columbia University scholars and released in December by the National Bureau of Economic Research, took data from a major urban school district and found that even in the context of poverty, teachers consistently had a huge positive or negative impact.

    Get a bottom 1 percent teacher, and the effect is the same as if a child misses 40 percent of the school year. Get a teacher from the top 20 percent, and it’s as if a child has gone to school for an extra month or two.

    The study found that strong teachers in the fourth through eighth grades raised the game of their students in ways that would last for decades. Just having a strong teacher for one elementary year left pupils a bit less likely to become mothers as teenagers, a bit more likely to go to college and earning more money at age 28.

  6. #76
    Happy Dancer uumlau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    I agree. As I stated earlier, in evaluating teachers or students, we are attempting to measure something that has significant inherent subjectivity. Administrators and supervisors are afraid of that, though, because it requires them to make judgment calls and to be held accountable for them. It is far easier to point to a compilation of numbers to justify personnel decisions, regardless of their correlation with the desired outcomes. That only makes the process impersonal in the worst ways, and rewards those who game the system over those who are able to help kids learn.
    Yeah. The private sector has similar issues: people abdicate responsibility/accountability by spreading it among the group, making it impersonal. The best organizations emphasize that everyone needs to be pro-actively responsible for what they do, and try to fix or point out issues early, rather than just assume it's someone else's job.

    Part of the problem is the nature of standardized tests. If tests were able to measure how well students completed a research paper, interpreted a poem, conducted a chemistry experiment, conversed in French, analyzed a political address, or applied statistics to a decision, their results would be more closely aligned with the real skills and knowledge students need for life.
    Yes, that would be what "grades" are for.

    Existing tests sideline development of these fundamental skills by forcing educators to focus on facts that can be regurgitated and cookbook methods that can be memorized and cranked out. Some tests are now incorporating long answer or essay responses. I would be curious as to the rubrics used in evaluating these "objectively".
    Depends on the standardized test. I don't recall the SAT or ACT dealing with regurgitation of facts. I'd know: I suck at regurgitating facts (especially history tests), but I do remarkably well on standardized tests.

    The role of a standardized test is to help get a marker as to what a student's grades really mean. If a class's average GPA is 3.5, but they get way below-average scores on standardized tests, then that 3.5 doesn't mean as much (for a given class/school) as it would if their standardized test scores were significantly above average. Such statistics can be normalized/controlled to account for regional/economic differences. After that, it's a matter of deciding what to do with the results: if a school's 4th graders can on average only do 3rd grade math, that's probably OK, especially if there are extenuating circumstances, but if a school's 4th graders are still stuck on 1st grade math, there's a huge problem.

    I do agree, however, that it is a problem if the resulting policies at a school end up excessively emphasizing the standardized tests. That's a bad policy, and it obviously attempts to game the system at the expense of a real education. Ideally, I'd have a single practice exam for all the students, and offer after-school tutoring sessions for students who did unexpectedly poorly on it.


    (I assume in the above you meant "principals", as in the administrators of schools, rather than "principles" as in basic standards or assumptions. There certainly are principles at stake here as well.)
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  7. #77
    Senior Member captain curmudgeon's Avatar
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    @DiscoBiscuit...Well, what are your thoughts about it, then?
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  8. #78
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    Could you narrow that question down a bit?

  9. #79
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    Say... any employers out there hiring on the basis of test scores?
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  10. #80
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    And btw, haha to everyone's excellent ideas because take a look: the administrators are calling for standardised tests and the teachers are saying there's something more complex to engaging and teaching a student than what the student can sometimes show on a standardised test. Administrators are not thinking too hard about what they themselves are supposed to be doing, huh.

    Administrators and salary payers, perhaps your job is find out which of the "teachers" is obfuscating the story of what a teacher does and go torment them. All the other teachers are working on describing (and then presumably carrying out) what a teacher does. But you'd still like to measure them anyway because....?


    Get an education, flunkies.
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