Greg Marshall: This is no way to treat professional educators
Published: Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 11:50 p.m.
Wednesday's Sun article regarding the new VAM teacher evaluation results included a pair of comments from Alachua Superintendent Dan Boyd that I found to particularly interesting.
The first has disturbing implications: He pledged to “find a way to run the data in a way that will improve many evaluations and hurt none.”
If the powers-that-be can “run the numbers” to improve scores, then conversely, those same numbers could be “run” to lower a teacher's score! When a teacher's evaluation (directly tied to their job security and livelihood) can be interpreted differently and their scores changed while using the same data, is it really a valid assessment?
The Sun's Thursday article regarding the DOE's admission of errors involving these assessments only strengthens the argument against this evaluation process.
The second comment by Boyd, “This is another half-baked scheme out of Tallahassee affecting the teacher profession,” should give every citizen pause. If the respected head of an educationally sound Florida school district is willing to make a statement like this for the record, his frustration with our state government must be great indeed.
As a recently retired teacher with 35 years of experience, I've long believed that there are “pencil-necks” up in Tally who must constantly justify their positions and salaries by dreaming up more things for educators to do. Hey! If they're NOT constantly coming up with new documentation requirements, new methodologies, new assessments, new reporting schemes, etc., who needs them?
I'd love to see the cost/benefit analysis of their salaries, the high-stakes testing, VAM assessment, and all the other programs and requirements (often unfunded by Tally) the state has implemented over the last 10 years!
And what is the effect of these “half-baked” schemes? Ask a teacher! My friends who are still teaching bemoan the fact that they now spend more time documenting and correlating every minutia of their students' progress than the time spent in that all-important planning for their lessons! This documentation must often be recorded in several different ways in several different formats, and even in different media!
I'm glad I retired last year, but I hurt for my friends that remain “in the trenches.” No dedicated professional should be treated this way.
Greg Marshall is a retired teacher in Bradford County.