Evaluating success more proficiently

Wouldn't it be neat if every teacher in your child's school had a numerical rating that expressed how good of a teacher he/she is? That way you could dial-up a directory, see which teacher had the highest number and then call the school principal and make sure that next year your son or daughter gets into that teacher's class. What kind of parent wouldn't want the best teacher for their child?

The State has developed a new process for supervising and evaluating teachers and principals that will assign them a grade at the end of the school year. Each teacher and principal in the State of New York will be required to have an annual professional performance review (APPR) to determine their numerical rating. Forty percent of the APPR will be based on how the teacher's students do on state and local tests; the remaining 60 percent of the teacher's rating will be based on observation criteria. Each teacher will then be rated on a scale from zero to 100.

What could be simpler? Simple answers are great, but too often simple answers don't actually answer the question being posed. In the case of teaching, while a numerical rating seems easy enough, it just doesn't work. The act of teaching is far too complex to reduce it to a single number.

A single number may be handy for counting toes, but it just isn't possible to reduce teacher performance to a single number. Judging teaching may be one of the most complex evaluation tasks there is and it cannot be boiled down to a simple formula with a one-dimensional rating schematic. When one considers the assignment of teaching a group of students-all with different abilities and learning modalities-it becomes pretty clear that it is going to take more than a syllable or two to give any kind of fair and accurate assessment.

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