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Problems With Teacher Evaluations In Public Schools

2027 words - 8 pages

Teacher evaluations have been and continue to be under scrutiny. Major reform efforts are taking place to improve the process. Traditional teacher evaluations are no longer considered satisfactory. Such evaluations typically occur one or two times a year and are administered, in most cases, by the school principal. There are many reasons why traditional teacher evaluations are looked down upon. One of the reasons is because of the fact they are done so infrequently. Very little can be observed regarding the teaching and learning processes (O’Donovan, 2011). This can lead to a very unfair representation of a teacher’s performance since much of what a teacher can do, cannot be observed in one or two observations. It is also questioned whether the judgments of administrators are valid due to both the infrequency and lack of evaluator training (O’Donovan, 2011; Milanowski, 2011). Traditional evaluations, furthermore, have been found to be very ineffective in the way in which they are scored. Most educators receive high marks which makes it very difficult to determine differences in teachers’ abilities (Long, 2011). Once again, this is probably a result of an absence in evaluator training and a common understanding of what effective teaching looks like (O’ Donovan, 2011; Long, 2011). The greatest problem with traditional teacher evaluations is the fact that they do nothing to improve the bottom-line: student and teacher performance (O’Donovan, 2011; Milanowski, 2011).
Formal classroom observations can be effective if they are approached differently than the traditional practices of the past. Most importantly, administrators, other evaluators, and teachers need to have a clear understanding of what competent performance includes (Milanowski, 2011). A rubric can be used to distinctly define various components and competencies of teaching such as instructional planning, classroom management, delivery of instruction, and knowledge base (Milanowski, 2011). Rubrics can be a powerful tool because they provide evaluators with a focus which assists in the implementation of uniform evaluations (Milanowski, 2011). As a result, evaluations are much more reliable and valid. It’s not enough, however, to have and use a rubric; an evaluator must be explicitly trained in their use and in the recognition of various levels of performance (Milanowski, 2011). If used correctly, rubrics will provide teachers with specific feedback regarding their practice and an administrator or evaluator can provide support, in the form of coaching, resources, or professional development, as needed. The use of rubrics makes evaluations less judgmental, like traditional evaluations, and assists in helping teachers better meet the needs of their students.
Rubrics, although extremely important, are not the only factor in effective formal evaluations. As stated earlier, traditional classroom observations occur one or two times a year. To promote reliability, it is...

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