Teacher evaluation and the bifurcation fallacy.


Dumb and Dumber.

In case you haven’t noticed, I have a bunch of hater-groupies. Every once in a while when I have collected a bunch, I will post them.

Readers seem to enjoy reading the trolls. And I, frankly, enjoy writing the responses.

Yesterday’s Washington Post reported that a New York judge ruled that the value added evaluation of teachers, aka VAM, was “capricious and arbitrary.”

Teachers have been saying this for years. But what did we know.

Now a judge agrees with us.

I drew a cartoon this morning illustrating the judge’s decision.

Naurally the trolls reacted.

“To some, accountability to others,” wrote “Clyde.”

“Evaluations Schmevaluations. We don’t need no steenking teacher evaluations. They’re all excellent, so fugeddaboutit. Eh?” wrote “Akvida.”

The problem with the teacher-haters is that their ideological blinders force them into a belief in the bifurcation fallacy.

That is, since I am against bad evaluation I am against all teacher evaluation.

Bad evaluation is using tests that were designed to measure students’ understanding and use them to measure teacher instructional ability. Which they were not designed to do.

There is much doubt whether those tests are even valid or reliable in measuring student understanding. We know that the results are near useless in guiding instruction, not timely, and measure outcomes that are disconnected to what is taught.

Now, I admit that figuring out good teacher evaluation is complex. In my old district we spent a lot of time exploring those complexities and through conversation, committee work, bargaining and negotiations, we came up with a pretty good system. It was a road map for getting rid of bad teachers. It was protection for teachers against the whims of administrators.

Anyone who has a boss knows that they do have whims.

But our district’s evaluation system was tossed out after Illinois enacted PERA, the Performance Evaluation Reform Act.

My trolls would love PERA if they took the time to read it.

It fits perfectly into their binary vision.

No messy complexity.

4 Replies to “Teacher evaluation and the bifurcation fallacy.”

  1. The only really effective evaluation of any product or service is through market forces. As long as evaluation (of any product or service – teaching being a service) is done by bureaucrats, instead of consumers, the system will fall short of being truly effective. Free-market assessment (supply & demand, basically) will insulate the provider (teacher) from administrative whims, and will – most effectively – provide a road-map for sending poor teachers on to a more suitable career. I agree with you PERA isn’t worth reading.

    1. You are confused. Supply and demand isn’t an assessment system. It doesn’t even describe an economic system. It is a component of a capitalist economic system, but doesn’t begin to describe it in full. Yet, simply calling for supply and demand as a way to evaluate teachers only proves my point about your inability to deal with an issue of complexity.

  2. Dang! Why didn’t we think of that? You need/like a teacher, you don’t fire them. You don’t need/like a teacher, you fire them. Just how does this insulate teachers from the whims of administrators?

  3. Since SB7, many school districts have been getting rid of their best and most experienced teachers because they are at the top of the pay scale. (They don’t admit it as the reason, they just make up phony evaluations, lay off everyone, then don’t call them back.) Other real reasons for getting rid of teachers are they dare voice pro-union opinions or grievances, or are not a yes person for the principle. Sometimes it is to create an opening for a friend of the principal or a school board member. Very few teachers are being let go because of actually being a bad teacher. Tenure was there for very good reasons, and the unions should never have gone along with it.

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