There is a lot of mistrust between teachers and the Race To The Top administration.
Most of that comes down to testing, and evaluating a teacher based on her students.
One might think that would be ideal. If you don't teach well, you shouldn't be a teacher. "You are the weakest link,... Goodbye!"
However with teaching is it not so easy. I'll give you one example, which I sincerely hope never occurs. It is so horrible, but it demonstrates a weak link in the process so I'm using it as an example anyway.
If you are the teacher, and every day your students get sodomized while they are at home, how can anyone teach with that?
"Oh, she's a bad teacher; look at her test results; look at her students, none of them are engaged. They are all in their own little world. Let's fire this one."
Now do you get it? How can anyone be a successful teacher in that environment? You are so getting fired.
Perhaps they weren't sodomized. Perhaps instead they didn't eat the whole time they were away? Or perhaps they saw their neighbor get beat up on the street, eye hanging out of his socket? Or perhaps they were kept up with screaming, and sounds of fist hitting faces?
And the next day they are in front of you in relative safety, the memories burning on their cortex, and you are explaining the executive branch of government....
"Excuse me, I (the teacher) asked you a question; if you aren't going to pay attention, you have to leave." "I ain't leavin"... "Yes you are! You haven't paid attention since you came in. Get out! now! Take your books! go to compulsory! You are ruining the educational experience for all these kids. What's wrong with you kids these days. You won't have a future because you won't pay attention; you won't learn.."
(Evaluator watching over the internet makes these notes: failed to control classroom; creates incident unnecessarily)...
Teachers can't win, and that is why there is such animosity to this system created in some office by someone wholly unfamiliar with what goes on in a student's world. They think everyone today is growing up just like they grew up, white in a small crime free town, with a church on every corner...
Furthermore, because these evaluations were thought-out in an office somewhere, there are a rather large number of inconsistencies.
We suddenly have German and French teachers being rated by how the Spanish teacher did, because there is no evaluator knowing German or French and tests were not created to measure them. We have the drivers-ed teacher, being rated by how the Physical Education and Health department test out.Usually the rubrics used to rate teachers, are 1 - 5. One thing that could assist in the roll out of these new evaluatory programs, would be that instead of manipulating data to cover the inconsistencies, you simply put down a "5 rating" anywhere there is something that is out of line.
Teachers are worried they will get screwed. If you do the opposite, and just hand out 5's whenever there is a category that can't be evaluated, much of the anger will ebb and disappear.
Teachers don't want free high scores; they want to show they can teach well.Putting these 5's in place of items completely out of their control, alleviates the fear and stress that something over which they have no control, will make them unemployed.
Later, as the fact finders pick through these fives throughout the evaluation process, the inconsistencies become apparent, in fact they will jump right out at you. Then for the following year you can develop actions that match and test those areas in a fair way.
Seeing the problems Tennessee had with their teacher's evaluations, should the rest of the states just put down 5's and announce this policy ahead of time, it would make life so much easier for all involved.
Remember, the total score is not what this accountability session is all about. Keeping good teachers is what this accountability session is all about....
When kids have good teachers, sometimes despite the problems I mentioned above, ... a good teacher can somehow, someway, in a way no test can ever determine, find that secret hidden passage and finally get through to them...