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I've spent the past three days at an OTES (Ohio Teacher Evaluation System) training. This system is being phased in over the next two years, and will serve as the vehicle by which all teachers in Ohio are evaluated. The workshop culminates with a post-assessment, taken some time after the classes end, resulting in licensure and the ability to evaluate instructional staff.

OTES is described by ODE as a system that will

provide educators with a richer and more detailed view of their performance, with a focus on specific strengths and opportunities for improvement.

I talked to a number of administrators and teachers who had already taken the training before attending. Without exception, they were all struck by the rigidity of the rubric. I agree, but there's more here. Any system that wields so much power must be realistic, honest, and rooted in the consensus of academic research. The OTES rubric fails this basic test.

Words Matter

Check out the Ohio Standards for the Teaching Profession (starting on page 16) approved in October of 2005. Now look at the OTES rubric. The first thing you will notice is that the OTES rubric has four levels, and that the Ohio Standards only have three. I think it's fair to say that the Ohio Standards did not include the lowest level. (The document says as much.) The top three levels of the OTES Rubric align with the three levels of the Ohio Standards. The snag? The terminology used in the OTES rubric. Proficient has been replaced by Developing, Accomplished by Proficient, and Distinguished by Accomplished. Each level has been relegated!

One might argue that this doesn't matter. But, it does. Teacher evaluations are public record. School performance, or at least the percentage of teachers that fall into each category, will be published. Newspapers will ask for names of teachers and their ratings. And, as we will see as I unpack the rubric in greater detail, the very best teachers are likely to fall into the Proficient category. What's the one relationship between public education and the word Proficient already burned into the minds of parents? The minimal level of performance required to pass the Ohio Graduation Test. Dishonest.

Recognizing Excellence

The OTES rubric is brutal. While the final determination of how many Accomplished ratings are required to achieve an overall Accomplished score is left to the district, it is clear that very few, if any, teachers will ever attain such a rating. The State has accumulated over 100 videos of lessons. Not one represents an Accomplished teacher. Trainers are telling trainees to forget about the Accomplished level when they take their assessment. My trainer stated that she's been told to expect between 0-2% of teachers to meet the requirements of this elite rating. (She also said that they've been working this model in her county for the past year and have yet to find a teacher that scores this high.) Unrealistic.

For fun, I looked at some other professions. By my calculations, between 4-5% of doctors and lawyers are recognized as "excellent" or the best in their field. (I used Castle Connolly for the doctor information, and Best Lawyers for the attorneys.) What other profession would policy makers have the audacity to humiliate in this way? What other group of professionals would be complicit in such humiliation? (Certainly, some from our ranks were consulted as OTES was developed.)

Academic Research

Here's where it gets complicated. As a Ph.D. candidate in educational psychology, I'm aware of the battles that take place between those from my field and the curriculum specialists. Typically, educational psychologists will cite quantitative research while the curriculum specialists will have less stringent requirements in terms of what is required for validity. However, it fairly clear that the sort of research that requires experimental design and statistical analysis has not been part of the body of work supporting learning styles and differentiated instruction, yet both are a big part of the rubric.

Learning styles are part of the accomplished ranking for Assessment Data, all rankings for Knowledge of Students, and both the Developing and Proficient levels of Resources. Learning styles have been debunked, full article here. The primary finding? The vast majority of Learning Style studies failed to randomly assign subjects, and many that did found evidence that contradicted the principles of the theory. And yet, OTES requires teachers to employ this discredited theory. Not supported.

Differentiated instruction (DI), one of the ten areas of the rubric, is a bit more troublesome. It also shows up in the Accomplished level of Assessment of Data, and the Developing, Proficient, and Accomplished levels of Assessment of Student Learning.  Nascent in comparison to learning styles, DI is rooted in the work of Carol Tomlinson.

In an early piece, Tomlinson, after dedicating several pages to describing the ways in which teachers have failed to meet the "diverse needs of their students", implores teachers to "consistently, defensibly, and vigorously adjust curriculum and instruction in response to student readiness, interest, and learning profile" (p. 131). One of the three foundational areas within which Tomlinson (originally) suggested differentiation take place is the "learning profile", closely related to the debunked "learning styles". It is my understanding that she has focused more on the other areas of her theory in recent years.

Here's the thing about differentiated instruction. It significantly increases a teacher's workload, and it's not clear that real differentiation, as Tomlinson describes, is possible or more effective. In fact, Mike Schmoker argues that, "it is on no list, short or long, of the most effective educational actions or interventions". If you read Schomoker's piece, you'll learn that he corresponded with Tomlinson via email for a prolonged period of time, asking her to cite "research or strong evidence to support (DI's) widespread adoption". Tomlinson was unable to produce such evidence. Not universally supported.

To be fair, differentiated instruction is complex, and likely hard to assess via traditional experimental designs. Providing materials and support that put each student into their idiosyncratic "Zone of Proximal Development" sounds wonderful. But, to reach the Accomplished level on the OTES rubric, teachers have to demonstrate differentiation at the individual level. This is unrealistic. Why is DI included as a category on the OTES rubric? Why has it been embraced by the (public) education community? It sounds magnificent, and expecting one teacher to meet every need of every student is a lot cheaper than hiring additional staff to negotiate the individual differences teachers face every day.

Differentiation, at the Accomplished level of the OTES rubric demands individualization, and this is dangerous. As a professional community, we'd better be careful condoning this sort of expectation (a single teacher differentiating at the individual level), because while it is not likely that a human can do this sort of thing (see research related to the limits of working memory), technology can. And while Tomlinson's motivations appear honorable, policy makers' intentions are not as clear. Would they hesitate to turn over the education of our children to machines that don't get sick or ask for raises? Maybe.

What Does This Mean? (More Academic Research)

Let's say one buys into the notion that Ohio teachers, as a group, are subpar. What does academic research in the area of motivation tell us we should expect to observe when these "underperforming" individuals are confronted with the new evaluation system? In short, we should expect avoidance and distress, resulting the abandonment of any desire to apply the rubric in a meaningful way.

Goal Theory

Goal theory is an area of educational research that examines how goals affect learner motivation. Broadly defined, there are three categories of goals; mastery goals, performance goals, and avoidance goals. Mastery goals are the sort of goals that are set when an individual sees the inherent value in a skill or a domain of knowledge, and seeks to understand or attain competence due to this appreciation. Performance goals are selected when the primary driver of learning is to demonstrate competence, rather than to understand for the sake of understanding.

Finally, avoidance goals are selected when an individual lacks the confidence that they are able to complete a task. In these cases, avoiding notoriety is the principal objective. Individuals who face a rubric which, by design, eliminates any possibility of achieving excellence, are likely to avoid confronting this reality using any means necessary. They are unlikely to buy into the system as a means of professional growth. Rather, the chances are great that their will view the system with apprehension, confronting it and its prescriptions only when required to by their administrator.

Unattainable Goals

Isn't it ironic that educators' school years have traditionally begun with creation of SMART Goals, yet the state is requiring those same individuals to be evaluated using a framework thats highest ranking, by the State's own admission, is, for all intents and purposes, unattainable? (The "A" in SMART stands for attainable.)

Carsten Wrosch and colleagues have done a great deal of research on unattainable goals, finding that, "goal disengagement and goal reengagement tendencies can compensate for the distress associated with the occurrence of unattainable goals" (p. 1505). They conclude that unattainable goals are unhealthy and lead to distress. Further, those individuals who successfully cope with unattainable goals do so by giving up and selecting more realistic, though not necessarily related, attainable goals.


Self-efficacy, part of Bandura's social cognitive theory, refers to the belief that one is able to accomplish the task at hand. Similar to the findings of goal theory, Bandura's work suggests that individuals who do not believe that they will be successful, those who have low efficacy as it relates to the task at hand, will avoid such task rather than confront their perceived certainty of failure. More precisely, Bandura states

Self-efficacy judgments, whether accurate or faulty, influence choice of activities and environmental settings. People avoid activities that they believe exceed their coping capabilities, but they undertake and perform assuredly those that they judge themselves capable of managing (Bandura, 1982, p. 123)

These areas of motivational research suggest that the vast majority of teachers, those who are not mastery oriented or who are not supremely efficacious in their pedagogical ability, are likely to look for other avenues to satisfy whatever professional growth aspirations remain after confronting OTES.


There are bad teachers, and those that need support so that they might reach all of their students. Raising the overall quality of instruction is an admirable goal. However, policy makers have overcompensated for their belief that the vast majority of Ohio's teachers are negligent, creating an evaluation tool that is dishonest, not fully supported by academic research, and, in some cases, unrealistic in its expectations.

Administrators have their work cut out for them if they hope to use OTES as a vehicle for professional growth. Teachers will be confronted with a rubric couched in language seemingly chosen to degrade the level of effectiveness attained. Some administrators have suggested that teachers are "just going to have to forget about the Accomplished level, and be content with Proficient". I don't think that will work.

Originally posted to fazel on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 06:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge, Systems Thinking, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is an excellent diary. While I didn't know (22+ / 0-)

    anything about ground conditions in education in Ohio, the problems you cite here seem typical of the nonsense that is going on all over the country. Make no mistake about it: the out-of-control education reform movement is a direct threat to the education of our children and the future of our country. The real question is, what are we going to do to change the narrative and save our public education system?

    Educators and others concerned with actual improvement of the educational system (as opposed to fantasy-based reform) need to do many things. That's a complex topic. But I would like to suggest that a really good thing for us to focus on right now is to do anything we can to replace Arne Duncan with a secretary of education who actually understands the situation educators face. With the cabinet for Obama's second term not yet set, this is the time to let the President hear how displeased we all are with current policy and direction in education.

    Anyway, thanks for this diary.

    I believe that in every country the people themselves are more peaceably and liberally inclined than their governments. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by Blue Knight on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 06:35:03 AM PST

  •  retired teachers (25+ / 0-)

    My wife and I are retired NYC teachers who often unhappily discuss education. We were better elementary teachers before all these rubrics were invented.  Kids were taught social skills, social studies, home economics, music appreciation--you know--stuff that's not on present day evaluation tests.

    From our point of view, schools were not failing--society was/is failing.  Before Brown v Bd of ED, minority children were segregated--and poorly educated--and no one kept score.  Once "they" were included in the statistics for white schools, results looked terrible--and publishers discovered a ruse to make more money by constantly changing the texts.  BTW, the Scott Foresman readers from the 1950s were the best--cute fantasy stories that kids liked--controlled vocabulary and great teacher's editions.

    Schools won't improve until society integrates--not schools, but housing and employment.  That's the only rubric that makes sense.  Does anyone really think Palo Alto and Scarsdale have the best teachers and the best texts?  They have the most prepared students.

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 06:39:07 AM PST

    •  They Have The Best Prepared Teachers (0+ / 0-)

      and schools that are despretely attempting to meet state and national goals with poorly prepared students are unable to provide superior education for well prepared students which sets up the same dynamic that resulted in white flight. The best prepared students cannot afford years in a school that is unable to provide for their intellectual needs.

      Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

      by tikkun on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 09:17:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not always (11+ / 0-)

        I don't think you'd find that if you swapped the staff of the schools in Palo Alto and say Fresno that the low-achieving kids would see a substantial change in test scores. Indeed, you might find that scores even go down.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 11:01:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good idea (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cynndara, JanL

          This experiment should be pushed in every state. Maybe four or five trials set up in each stste. I'll bet they ALL would show what you proposed.

          Has this ever been done?

          There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. - Sun Tzu

          by OHeyeO on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 12:06:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Then how do you explain parochial school (0+ / 0-)

        which frequently have lower qualifications for teachers?

        •  Active parent participation (0+ / 0-)

          Remember, you can't have crazy without az.

          by Desert Rose on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 01:46:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  They can expel any student for anything (0+ / 0-)

          I grew up thinking Catholic kids were what most people call "greasers" and we called "hoodies." They were never in college prep; they filled the shop and secretarial classes. They were the kids who got kicked out of parochial school, which I didn't really realize back then, not knowing anything about Catholics in my Jewish milieu.

          Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

          by anastasia p on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 04:14:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wow. I'd forgotten about that dynamic. It was a (0+ / 0-)

            little less dramatic in our town since a lot of the Catholic kids went to the public school from the beginning, but we also had a kids who had been kicked out of Catholic school and that did distort, I suspect, the percentage of Catholic kids that seemed like "good" kids.

            On the other hand, our community was really small and close knit. I knew the names of all the kids in my neighborhood within a few years of my age, except for a group of kids that went to the Catholic school. It felt funny because no one that I recall went to private school and I litterally knew everyone except the kids who went to Catholic school. For a long time, it was a mystery to me, who were these kids who didn't go to school, until my mother told me.

            Weird memory. I'd almost entirely forgotten.

    •  However, we do know that specific approaches and (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, Leap Year

      strategies do help "unprepared" students.  Things like formative assessment and critical feedback, chunking reading with attention to comprehension, writing to learn strategies, etc.  Many good teachers use these strategies.  Many not-so-good teachers look at these things and say..."it's a fad.  what I've been doing for x years works just fine" and then grumble about kids not being ready to do the work.

      teacher evaluation systems do need to call out not-good teachers that are not using approaches that have been shown to work.

      •  money (11+ / 0-)

        If you want to improve education, you must be willing to spend more money.  Not one prominent politician has the balls to speak that truth.  As for "bad" teachers--that's bullshit.  Tenure comes after years of evaluation, if the teacher is not quality, the principal finds out very quickly--and should get rid of the rookie.
         The sad truth is that in some poor neighborhoods, school administrators are just looking for "warm bodies"--the job is not attracting many qualified applicants--not paying great salaries--not always in a safe neighborhood--and not loaded with esteem.  Reality is often uncomfortable--but nobody discusses the real questions--and no one is supplying real solutions.

        Apres Bush, le deluge.

        by melvynny on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 10:02:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Money (2) (0+ / 0-)

          Sorry, but money just doesn't cut it. We spend right at the top, over $18K annually per student here in NYC—$450K+ for a class of 25. And all we have ever done is to increase education expenditure for decades. If that can't buy good education, I am extremely doubtful that increased expenditure will make much of a difference.

  •  Republished to Teachers Lounge (9+ / 0-)

    Thank you for an interesting (and a bit scary) discussion.

  •  Teachers are being hoisted by their own petard (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fazel, johnny wurster, hmi

    The most sensible evaluation is observation by trained supervisors with all of its attendant subjectivity, but teachers don't want that because of their belief that it's better to destroy the universe than to tolerate a single act of injustice (to teachers).  That's why we have these silly rubrics, which will likely destroy the universe.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 07:20:01 AM PST

  •  Someone in Michigan seems to be able to break the (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnny wurster, hmi, FG, Cassandra Waites

    code on how to protect teachers' self esteem. One wonders about that of the students.

    Every teacher and principal in the Hazel Park School District’s four elementary schools, junior high and high school were given “highly effective” ratings in 2011-12 by administrators despite district-wide failing grades for student achievement. [emp mine]
    •  This is representative of the other extreme. (4+ / 0-)

      I'm not arguing that we shouldn't expect a great deal from teachers, or that we should not expect them to continue to grow professionally. But, there are smart ways to do this. The school you mention chose to make a political statement, not an assessment of teacher quality. That's different.

    •  You are aware of Highland Park's economic (4+ / 0-)

      situation? I know that the neo-libs who dictate education policy for both Democratic and Republican administrations declare that there are to be "No Excuses" despite the fact that the greatest indicator of educational success is socio-economic status. Despite the claim that they are "data driven", they only accept data that conforms to their pre-conceived ideas.

      About 20 miles up the road from Highland Park is Rochester Hills, a very wealthy community. Less than one percent of their students are on free or reduced lunch. I suggest that for one year, we should have the teachers from Highland Park teach at Rochester Hills, and visa versa. On second thought, that's probably a bad idea. The teachers at Highland Park are there because they want to be there, and though they would doubtless have an easier gig at Rochester Hills, the students at Highland Park would be poorly served by teachers who didn't want to be there.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 04:31:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is ridiculous. One of the greatest causes (18+ / 0-)

    of our present misery derives from the MBA concept that everything of any importance can be measured. Then, profiteers set up measuring schemes that do not give valid results, but do give results that seem to support whatever scheme is up their sleeves.

    This is all a set up to further degrade public education, and weaken educators while educational profiteers prepare to grab publicly funded resources for private gain.

    This is a march toward seizure and subversion of public resources just as surely as the march to seize social security, medicare, and medicaid.  

    However, what really drives me crazy is when I hear these hucksters calling education an industry.  

    It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

    by ciganka on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 08:29:24 AM PST

    •  I agree to a point, but there are specific things (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny wurster, FG, orphanpower

      that can be looked for in terms of effective teaching.  And, until recently, there hasn't been a systemic effort to do robust evaluations.  A good teacher will do just fine on these evaluations.

      •  Wrong. Excellent teachers in my district in AZ (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        are scoring poorly on the selected tool. Two years with a "developing" score and you are SOL and out of a job.  Within 5 yrs there will be no one teaching.  AZ's goal is to have more charters.  This will hasten it.

        Remember, you can't have crazy without az.

        by Desert Rose on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 01:54:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Most things of importance can indeed be (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      measured. We can argue about the most effective way of doing it but pretending that teaching ability is some magical quality that can't possibly be measured is ridiculous. Universities have been doing it for ages. It's not super accurate but it doesn't need to be.

      •  Doesn't change the fact (6+ / 0-)

        that education is not an industry and children are not "products".  Nor that teaching is fast becoming a ghetto where only the most and least motivated dwell -- the most because the few who genuinely love the purpose are willing to put up with anything, even the universal abuse heaped on them by the politicization of American education, and the least, because they can get a steady job and not give a shit.

        I've watched the Ohio game play out for the last decade from the position of an interested observer with good friends in the business.  I've got to say that I am NOT impressed with efforts to "improve" education, most of which appear only to raise the pricetag for both the community AND THE TEACHERS (all those additional "professional development" classes they have to take) without doing a damned thing for the overall level of literacy and knowledge.  At this rate, we can legislate improvement until the entire nation is functionally illiterate.  We've already begun the long shift from written signage to pictorial symbols, not to mention the gibberish amalgamation of letters, numbers, and symbols that is text shorthand.

      •  Universities have been doing this for decades? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I would certainly like to see the proof of that statement.

        A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

        by slatsg on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 03:57:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Most things of importance can be measured? (0+ / 0-)

        Great.  What impact on a kid's future income, overally happiness, and lifespan will being taught by one teacher have vs another?  And how will that impact society as a whole?

        That is what we really want to measure, right?

      •  Actually just the failed attempts thus far (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        indicate to me that what is needed is a teaching team.  The burden should not fall on one teacher.  There should be tremendous support staff.  Perhaps in areas where there are many at risk children, teachers should lead something that would be the equivalent of "treatment teams" for students.

        The other problem with attempting to measure all of this so  far is the diversity.  For example, when you state that "universities have been doing it for ages", the problem is that universities are not the "open to all" institutions that public schools are. Thus, the lack of being "super accurate" in the university is just going to get less and less accurate within the diverse nature of public school classrooms.  

        I certainly would not claim that teaching is some magical quality that can't be measured, but I would say that it does require some talent - as do plenty of other occupations.  There are various assessments tools, but unless the students can magically be homogenized - making each classroom pretty much identical - it will be really hard to quantify teacher performance consistently.

        I repeat myself but a teaching team is what is needed - a well paid, and well resourced teaching team.

        However, when the predetermined, corporate outcome is on-line learning and privatization, then the evaluation system must be skewed to ensure this outcome.

        It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

        by ciganka on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 07:53:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the diary.. (4+ / 0-)

    I'm a mega political nerd who compiles research on govt/public policy; so I am greatful for your diary because now I can add some more stuff to by page  long notes on ways to improve education

    We only think nothing goes without saying.

    by Hamtree on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 09:33:54 AM PST

  •  differentiated instruction... (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fazel, elfling, FG, bamajunky, drmah, Leap Year

    OK, so I agree with your comments about Tomlinson's work.  Her books drive me nuts.  A 3 page idea stretched to a complete industry of books and PD.

    differentiation is important and possible.  I expect my preservice teachers to do it...and most of them (with coaching) can do it well.  It simply means meeting individual students where they are.  e.g.  Having a student read a 10th grade reading level book when they are reading at a 5th grade level probably isn't going to help that child too much.  If resources are available, it isn't too hard to differentiate the reading that this students is doing.

  •  This reminds me of the system I was (7+ / 0-)

    reading about for Baltimore, or maybe Baltimore County were teachers had to do something like a 129 point rating of the students for each and every class.

    Sheesh, with all that, who'd ever have time to actually teach?

  •  While I'm not well versed in the Ohio plan... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnny wurster, FG

    I would point out that I have never read a single education diary here that is anything less than unwavering in its criticism of any attempt, by any state or locale, to measure teacher performance.

    I don't understand that.  Is there no way to benchmark performance in the classroom and tie it to how a teacher is evaluated?  Is any attempt to objectify expectations by definition an attack on teachers?

    Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 10:15:26 AM PST

    •  Probably those who are most motivated to measure (6+ / 0-)

      performance are the most rabid supporters of these over-the-top pro-corporatist teacher-hating methods, so they naturally get control. This means that it will take a very concerted counter-effort by teachers and their unions to put forward their own evaluation plans, and do a merciless sales-job to drown out the Michelle Rhee's of this country.

    •  If you look up the PAR program (8+ / 0-)

      (Peer Assistance and Review), most teachers and education experts would like to move towards something like that.

      The problem comes from a desire by some to assign numeric scores such that teachers can be ranked by people hundreds or thousands of miles away, rather than by having them evaluated by a high quality administrator who can be flexible about understanding the particular strengths and weaknesses of the person in front of them.

      I would add that it's common for people to complain that not enough teachers are 'fired.' They miss that a lot of teachers leave the profession and many do so because they were 'counseled out'.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 11:22:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In all of my working career, I have never been (0+ / 0-)

        given a performance evaluation by my coworkers.   Neither have I ever been in a position to submit to my employer the criteria and yardsticks by which they should judge my performance on an annual basis.  Those benchmarks were always given to me, not the other way around.

        Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

        by Keith930 on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 01:55:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good for you (0+ / 0-)

          But why should every worker be subjected to a top-down approach to employee evaluation?

        •  Just a note. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26, cassidy3, Desert Rose, ciganka

          I am in the position of doing the evaluation. I'm the boss. And I'm not saying that much of what's behind the rubric is wrong. Remember, this rubric accounts for only half of the teacher's final score - the other 50% comes from "student growth measures". What I am saying, is that the top level of the rubric is unrealistic, essentially an ideal. This level is represented inaccurately. Words matter.

          Additionally, the rubric is very rigid, it chooses sides, if you will. Some of the choices that it makes are not supported by (all) academic research. There are a lot of areas related to educational research that are unsettled, so why create a measurement device that ignores this reality?

        •  The PAR system is not one in which teachers (3+ / 0-)

          are evaluated by coworkers.  I work in  a system (Montgomery County MD) that has been nationally recognized for our evaluation system.  Teachers are evaluated by administrator on the 5 guiding propositions set forth by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards:  1) Teachers are committed to students and their learning, 2) Teachers know the subjects they teach and ow to teach those subjects to students, 3) Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning, 4) Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience, 5) Teachers are members of learning communities.

          Student achievement as shown through a variety of measures (not standardized test scores) is also considered.  The peer assistance and review comes in when a teacher is identified as needing improvement.  Those teachers are placed on PAR.  There are full time consulting teachers in each content area which work as mentors with these teachers to help them improve.  They have a year to work with their consulting teacher who evaluates the teacher's performance. At the end of that year the consulting teacher and the administrator present their evaluations to the PAR panel which consists of teachers, administrators and union members.  The panel decides whether or not the teacher continues their employment.  Many struggling teachers end up resigning or retiring.

          The consulting teacher serves as an impartial observer who is knowledgeable in the evaluated teacher's content area, which administrators often aren't.  As such the consulting teacher is considered the peer.

          “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

          by musiclady on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 07:06:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The reason for this is because of the two (6+ / 0-)

      fundamental premises of the so-called reformers. The first is that there are millions of poor teachers. A second premise is that US schools are failing. I reject both premises. My beliefs are backed by data as solid as the data of the critics of public education.

      Moreover I grow weary of educators being blamed for ills of our society and being expected to provide the cure for conditions created and promoted by the very monied interests who created and perpetuate those conditions.

      The American health care system is rated as poorly as 37th in the world. Yet we don't see the medical practitioners under the same scrutiny as educators.

      We have the highest incarceration rate in the world, but where is unending cry for the reform of our legal system?

      Don't get me started on our economic system. And yet, despite the phenomenal failure of the business sector, educators keep hearing that we should run our schools like a business.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 04:57:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is key: (7+ / 0-)

    What other profession would policy makers have the audacity to humiliate in this way? What other group of professionals would be complicit in such humiliation?

    The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

    by helfenburg on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 10:24:08 AM PST

  •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    What other profession would policy makers have the audacity to humiliate in this way? What other group of professionals would be complicit in such humiliation?
    Just about every profession has methods by which its practitioners are evaluated.  And even though those methods aren't perfect, or may be flawed, or lead to unfair results from time to time, people don't get as bent out of shape as teachers seem to.  From the viewpoint of someone outside looking in, it looks like teachers are hellbent on avoiding any sort of evaluation process.
    •  Where (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, ThompsonLazyBoy, ciganka

      are the research based studies that support the instrument?

      Educational attainment as stated above has a high correlation with socio-economic status, not newly created evaluation systems designed to make teachers look bad.

      Disclaimer:  I am an administrator, who spent over 20 yrs in the classroom, and I actually DO evaluate teachers.

      Remember, you can't have crazy without az.

      by Desert Rose on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 02:04:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Glengarry Glen Ross? (6+ / 0-)

    First prize is a Caddy, second prize is a set of steak knives, and third prize is you're fired.

    Teaching cannot be quantified like any other skill. Man, I cannot believe there are still long lines of people who want to teach. Trying to teach hungry, unmannered, and unskilled students new things is a rough joke. The United States is going to get a huge bill for this anti-teacher bullshit in a few years. I am glad I am getting old.

    •  Every professional thinks her area of practice (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hmi, FG

      is a special, special flower that's vastly different from others and requires all sorts of unquantifiable skills and magic.

      Perspective, plz.

    •  I think there are good parallels in medical doctor (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      evaluations.... which similarly is not well addressed.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 11:23:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good Parallels (0+ / 0-)

        In the medical field, one of the standards is to look at how patients under the care of doctors or hospitals do following treatment. In fact, Obamacare has already begun to fine hospitals for readmitting patients within 30 days of discharge. I haven't seen much about letting them off the hook because of their patients socio-economic status, e.g.. But anytime it is proposed to measure schools by the achievement of their pupils, cries and gnashing of teeth fill the air.

        •  Some differences exist. (4+ / 0-)

          Doctors deal with one patient at a time. Teachers are expected to deal with many more (25-30) at once. That may sound trivial, but when your forced to collect and analyze data, then make prescriptions in real time, dealing with one individual is exponentially simpler than dealing with 25.

          Also, medicine is much more predictable than social science. That is, there are, generally, prescribed methods or sets of methods for treating specific ailments. Things are not so cut-and-dry in the classroom. Finally, I would note that I did not rail against the student growth portion of OTES. 50% of the teachers evaluation is based on student growth. I've not said that this is a bad idea.

        •  Certainly there are many discussions about (5+ / 0-)

          patient non-compliance and practices with disproportionately sicker patients. If you haven't heard the wailing it's because you haven't been hanging out in the right places. ;-) But it is similarly a very complicated problem.

          Note that the readmit is at a hospital level, not say at a nurse or doctor level. Details like the size of your population matter. Individual doctors don't control the disinfection protocol of patient rooms. Etc.

          When people talk about trying to evaluate elementary school teachers based on student test scores, they forget that you'd need 4-5 years worth of data to be judging them on 100 students. That's a long time. I'd rather have the principal walk in and make a direct judgement and not renew the contract after the first year if the teacher doesn't seem to be someone that will be terrific.

          Not to mention the horror of certain states trying to figure out how to give standardized tests to 5 year olds.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 12:52:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  To all those who think teachers don't want (9+ / 0-)

    to be evaluated. The fact that the terminology for each ranking was changed in a way the devalues competency is a big deal. If they were left as they were in the original standards, and the public understood that the top level was really exclusive ("Distinguished" or "Exemplar") then I would be much less confrontational.

    The other issue, for me personally, is that it appears the educational psychologists, the ones with the statistical data, have lost the intellectual fight. Two theories generated by the curriculum / teacher education researchers have been questioned convincingly by psychologists, yet the educational community / policy makers see fit to include these items in the rubric anyway.

    The reality is that anyone who claims that there's a single way to teach shouldn't be trusted. There are far too many variables. I would have been much happier with a system that required teachers to read academic research and then support, through writing or oral arguments, why they teach the way they do. There is very little that connects what research says works, and the classroom teacher. That's a huge problem.

  •  All I needed to read was this.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, JanL, ciganka
    OTES will provide educators with a richer and more detailed view of their performance, with a focus on specific strengths and opportunities for improvement.
    ...and knew it was bullshit.

    Only the weak & defeated are called to account for their crimes.

    by rreabold on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 10:59:17 AM PST

  •  Nepotism and control (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, ladybug53, Cassandra Waites

    If almost all teachers can be judged inadequate then the only way to stay employed is to have friends on high and serve like a good little lap dog. Realistically, you can't fire them all, unless you create a parallel school system supported by taxpayers that has no standards to fail. Enter voucher funded charter schools. These will be good schools in rich neighborhoods with enough tuition cost to keep the riff raff out and appalling underfunded hell holes (for the most part) for the poor and working class that will have to get by on the voucher alone.

  •  I agree with your criticism of this method (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hmi, drmah, Cassandra Waites

    however, we have to come up with a way to evaluate teachers so we attract, retain and reward those who are excellent at what they do.   I will defer to education professionals on how this is best done, but I know in my school district pay and job security are based solely on how long you have been there and how many education classes you have. I have seen very effective teachers shown the door and not so effective teachers mill around for decades.

    How this evaluation is done should be worked out with the teachers union, the school board, and other appropriate parties.  I don't see any value in pretending any more that longevity and education levels are a sufficient way to evaluate teacher performance.  

    •  Teaching in the only profession where experience (5+ / 0-)

      is considered a deficit. I've worked with student teachers, mentored beginning teachers and worked with in-service seminars to improve the faculty in my school system. It is a fallacy to think that only young, inexperienced people can solve the deep problems for troubled learners.  Without specailty training for Learning Disabilities, Socail Service techniques or Brain Theory, the needs of the vulnerable student wont' be met.  It takes more than a two year committment to reach compentency to meet the needs of ALL your students. The percent of teachers now working to improve their teaching is very, very small.  It is the job of an adequate administrator to root out those who aren't working to improve.  Some silly test, given on some random day during the year should not be the sole evaluation.  

      •  Not so (2+ / 0-)

        to your thesis statement.  "Experience" over a certain minimum is a direct turnoff in a majority of jobs these days.  It implies too high a cost, combined with the possibility of independent judgment.  Employers above all don't want employees who might know more than they do.  Trust me.  As a secretary, I nearly got fired twice in my early career for correcting a boss's spelling.  It was unconscionable that I should be better educated than the person giving the orders!

      •  Who says its a deficit? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I certainly never did. Most  teachers get better each year with more and more experience. Some teachers coast and do the minimum possible and actually get worse year over year. I would like to distinguish between the two.

        Equating experience in and of itself as the sole determinant of how well someone does thier job is not credible.

        •  Painting all experienced teachers as incompentent (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          isn't the way to distinguish the good ones. Finding a teacher who hasn't taken a class, attended a seminar, served on a community school committee, or written a grant for better schools for your children would be difficult to find around here.  Most experienced teachers do something to help their children every single day.  Don't HATE experience so much.  Look around at ALL the good teachers continuing to serve in your neighborhood schools.

  •  Saddest part of Indiana's Teacher Salary plan is (6+ / 0-)

    teachers who receive advanced training for teaching Special Needs children or Learning Disabled children will always get the lowest grade and no pay incentive because they are willing to teach the most vulnerable students. But, teachers who teach AP Classes or Gifted and Talented classes will automatically get pay raises because they work with children who would have achieved well in any circumstance.  Teachers with additional training to qualify to teach in speciality areas like Library, Phys Ed, Music or Art will also be outside the incentive pay system since they do more than teach to the test all day. I don't understand why any intelligent college student would prepare to enter the teaching profession.  At best your career can only last a few years for new, inexperienced, untrained people like those who agree to go in to only teach two years then go on to more lucritive carees after they Teach for America will be the only "darlings" of the Wingers.

  •  Republished to Systems Thinking (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, JanL, elfling

    Great discussion of broad principles of evaluation as applied to a specific situation.

    We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

    by bmcphail on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 01:09:34 PM PST

  •  Thank you for writing this! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I will pass this on to my husband, who is an Instructional Coach/Science Teacher.  

  •  Performance Appraisal (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, fazel, Desert Rose, ciganka

    I worked in HR Consulting/Performance Management for many years.

    Evaluation systems are fraught with biases, systemic errors and unrealistic assumptions. A good book on this is "Abolishing Performance Appraisals: Why They Backfire and What to Do Instead." Academic books on performance appraisals are often quite humorous, as the authors document the well-known problems with appraisal and sometimes still conclude that they need to be included.

    The Ohio evaluation nomenclature you mentioned sounds like a follow-on from Jack (Plutocrat Extraordinaire) Welch's GE, where they applied a strict distribution (10%/20%/60%) for the top three areas respectively. The bottom 10% were supposed to be fired each year. Dumb. Imagine an R & D unit staffed with Ph.D's - are you really going to fire the bottom 10%?

    In any case - good luck to the teachers in Ohio.

  •  Sadly, your headline could also apply (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, ciganka

    to the entire set of policies of our Michelle Rhee-worshipping governor Josh Kasich who has stropped public school funding, forcing onerous tax hikes on communities that want to retain the level of education they have.

    "Dishonest, unrealistic, and not fully supported by academic research" indeed.

    Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

    by anastasia p on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 07:20:18 PM PST

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