Thursday, September 09, 2010

The big debate over at the NYT

So in order to lock in a lower price for the NCTE convention, I paid annual dues (oddly, the members' price for the convention PLUS the dues was STILL lower than the nonmember price). And then this morning know what I got? I got a CARNIVAL in my inbox! So that was pretty cool.

Anyway, one of the many interesting posts that they linked to was - well, actually, a series the New York Times is doing on judging teacher effectiveness. Quite a few interesting tidbits there. The article that links the others brings up two fairly recent controversies:

1) Using standardized test results to compare the effectiveness of teachers, the way the Los Angeles Times did.

2) Using value-added measurements to rank teachers - and then fire those on the bottom, the way Michelle Rhee did in D.C.

In her response to #2, Diane Ravitch summarized the view that If enough “bad” teachers are fired, goes the argument, test scores would soar, and the achievement gap between different races would close.

But here's what I want to know: who's going to teach all the classes that become teacherless?

Do the powers that be really think there are that many brilliant teachers wandering around looking for a job? (Michelle, I'm looking your way. Not that you read this, BUT...)

And IF that's the case, then the people we really need to fire are the principals, for hiring idiots and layabouts instead of geniuses and martyrs.

I guess what I really wonder is which is worse: jumping in with short-sighted attempts at reform? Or waiting for a better evaluation tool and in the meantime doing nothing?

Image thanks to


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