December 12th, 2012

Think About It………                                                                                                             December 12, 2012

The Alaska Board of Education has approved a controversial rule change for Alaska that adds, for the first time, “student learning data” to teachers’ annual job evaluations.

Right now only 5% of a teachers annual assessment is based on their students growth and performance but after last Friday’s action by the State Board that figure has been moved to 20% of teachers’ job evaluations, but not until two years from now. The plan is that not until six years from now will a student’s actual learning make up 50% of the evaluation of all public school teachers.

The proposal was one of the most hotly-debated issues to come before the state Board of Education in many years.  The public comment period before Friday’s action generated more than 900 written comments from 462 people — mostly teachers unhappy with the proposal that would access whether students actually learned during the year.  Teachers tend to believe that standardized testing of their students does not take into consideration “outside-the-classroom” factors that influence how students learn.

Governor Sean Parnell, told the Board last month in a letter, that at least 20 other states already weighted at least a 33% of teacher evaluations on student learning and that Alaska should do more than that and go to 50%. Parnell wrote “I would like Alaska to lead in this, not bring up the rear.”  NEA Alaska, the ultra liberal union which represents most of Alaska’s public school teachers was very upset that teachers would be faced with the new higher learning performance evaluation. Teachers, themselves, are  worried that their evaluations would be made public but for some reason that appears to be against state law.

One wonders why anyone would be against any requirement that assures our children are being taught properly in the classroom and learning to the very best of their ability. Our future depends on it. Holding our teachers to strict standards that require actual learning from the students, they teach, would seem to be extremely important.  In fact, if teachers are paid to teach and if their students are not learning as a result of sub-standard effort, work, or ability then proper testing and evaluation of our teachers would seem to be mandatory.

For years nationwide testing of students show that large numbers of our students are not proficient in most all of the basic skills they should have when they leave high school and America lags far behind many other nations in academic achievement.  The “dumbing down” of our students has been going on for far too long.

One has to wonder why only 20% or 50% of teacher’s annual job evaluations would be based on their students growth and performance? 

If indeed, we hire our teachers to teach, why wouldn’t 100% of their students learning growth and performance be the criteria for teacher evaluations.

Think About It!     JCD    12-12-12

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