Teacher Evaluation Without Student Learning


    Do not think about, write about or deal with  human behavior without determining the effects of incentives.

    Here are some excerpts from an article by Siegfried Engelmann about the State of Oregon’s metrics for evaluating teachers. Although it looks scientific, with numbers and formulae and all, it has little relevance to student learning. Evaluating teachers without seeing what they can produce is like teaching target shooting without ever looking at the target. “Nice foot position, good bracing. What’s that? We’ll just assume, with such good form that you can’t miss.”

   Here are some excerpts:

Oregon’s recently adopted matrix is an illusion on the order of the emperor’s new clothes, which were visible only to those who were “perceptive.” The Oregon Matrix purports to present a scheme for districts and schools to create summative evaluations of teachers and administrators. A summative evaluation is usually conceived of as something like an overall score, 88% or “well above average.”
A reasonable way to fashion a “summative” evaluation would be to obtain relevant data on student performance, and then judge the teachers and administrators almost exclusively on the basis of this data. If the student performance is poor, the teachers, administrators, and district are provisionally rated D or F.
The most relevant data the district could use would be how students perform on all parts of the instructional programs the district adopted. Note that this is virtually never done. Yet the adopted materials are the central tools designed to cause students to learn relevant content. Poor performance on the adopted material should therefore have substantial implications for teachers and administrators.


     In other words, check how the students meet the standards and judge teachers and administrators on that basis.

Possibly, the most deceptive practice refers to continuous improvement:
Teachers and administrators are evaluated on a regular cycle of continuous improvement which includes self-reflection, goal setting, observations, formative assessment, and summative evaluation.
There is no evidence of such evaluation leading to improvement and no evidence that self-reflection and goal setting lead to improved student or teacher performance.


     The good teacher is deeply reflective of his\her practice. The problem with government workers is that they are almost always deeply satisfied with their own performance. That doesn’t mean they’re any good.

Consider the reaction there would be if auto repair shops adopted a scheme parallel to this rubric. The issue of whether the car is properly repaired is weighted 1/5 the total score, while the professional skills of those who work on cars are 4/5 of the total. If more than half of the jobs are total failures, the mechanics could still receive very high scores.


      Student learning is slightly less than 20 percent of the evaluation where it should be 100%. Regardless of how rigorous the evaluation is, education will continue to be a long, very expensive IQ test. Marks and course completion only stand as a proxy for IQ.

    I confidently predict that, if students do not learn, none of these deeply reflective government employees will ever lose a job.

Government Job or Respect–Which’ll It Be?
Cheerio and ttfn,
Grant Coulson, Ph.D.
Author, “Days of Songs and Mirrors: A Jacobite in the ‘45.”
Cui Bono–Cherchez les Contingencies



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