December 12th, 2012

Posted: December 12, 2012 at 9:15 am

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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2 Comments to “December 12th, 2012”

  • Co Bowers says:

    I strongly agree that this should be more than 50%, but I also agree that parents should be held more accountable for their children’s behaviors and academic growth also. Parental involvement, family involvement and open communication between home and school are a must. Students need to know that parents are going to back up the classroom teachers and schools, not run them down or excuse poor academic behaviors or disruptive behaviors from the kids. Homework is the students responsibility and the parents responsiblity as well. You can’t expect teachers to teach kids that have to worry about food to eat, warm safe place to sleep or other basic necessities. Parents have to accept that responsibility and support teachers as well as expect to pay them for good or exceptional teaching. Salaries should be based on performance not tenure.

  • JCF says:

    Holding teachers to some kind of benchmark does have some merits; however there are problems with this proposal. The author is obviously slanted in their viewpoint by describing the NEA as an “ultra-liberal union”. It is the strongest union for teachers in the country and is simply trying to look out for their rights. Most Republicans these days view any union as ultra-liberal as they yearn to drive middle-class wages down accross the country.

    A big problem with the proposal is each teacher’s class is different. A good teacher can have a class with a large percentage of kids with learning difficulties-they simply are not going to learn as fast. At the same time a crappy teacher can have a class full of bright and self-motivated students who will excel no matter how the teacher works.

    So now, using this method, you will get rid of the good teacher and keep the bad teacher. Understanding that a teacher can be fired unfairly, the fact that they have spent four or more years in college pursuing a career where they are frankly underpaid makes this method of evaluating teachers even worse. All it will do is make people who would originally be inspired to be good teachers choose another career path.

    It is also interesting to note that many national Republicans are in favor of totally doing away with the public education system and just having private schools. If that ever happens only the priviledged will be able to get an education.