Comments about ‘A better way to grade teachers: Grading on how teachers promote student learning rather than test scores’

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Published: Tuesday, Oct. 30 2012 11:31 p.m. MDT

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West Jordan, Utah

Tell our legislators that testing, testing, testing isn't and always hasn't been the answer. Teachers are turning into resource teachers by the rules that the legislators have set up. We have less time to teach in a way to let the students discover and learn on their own. I'm just plain tired of teachers being pulled one way or another by people who have no education experience and are making decisions. Once in a while ask a teacher. They know what's best for their students......imagine that.

Buena Vista, VA

Here in VA, students must pass "SOLs" for "standards of learning." So many times, our kids' teachers have skipped teaching an interesting subject because "it is not on the SOL." And the history SOL encourages the memorization of facts, so the kids come home and study all these questions such as "What were two of Benjamin Franklin's ideas?" Nevermind he had hundreds of ideas, there are two that you better get, and nothing else counts. On the flip side, they just made the algebra SOL much, much harder all at once, so the pass rate has been cut in half overnight. And kids need to pass it to graduate. In elem school, all VA kids learn about Egypt, China, and Mali. If a teacher is an expert in a different country or culture, too bad. Only those countries count. Then, after the SOL tests have been taken in May, for a whole month they play games, watch movies, and take two or three field trips per class. Real learning stops completely. The SOLs and NCLB show, like many other government programs, unforeseen negative consequences (at least unforeseen by the politicians) and backfired good intentions.

Salt Lake City, UT

No testing eh? So pray tell, how do evaluate what a student has learned? Many schools tried the "mastery" approach to subjects. Comparative test scores on important subjects went down compared to other nations. They haven't improved in decades. Here's a thought. See what the nations with higher averages in math, science, language, history etc.,do and emulate that! Let
s concentrate on the fundamentals and leave all the sociology for later grades. I agree that NCLB is a miserable failure, but many of us warned it would be, when it was drafted.

Provo, UT

Ett- sure, there are countries with much higher averages on certain kinds of tests, but that "advantage" doesn't translate into proportionally higher performance in college or in the workplace. Instead, nations where too great an emphasis is placed on rote memorization of test material often end up with students whose capacity to investigate and solve problems on their own is diminished. Having been force-fed a stream of facts all their lives doesn't improve their capacity for independent thought.

Education is not primarily about memorization. It's about preparing people for life.

I'm not saying our system is fantastic or that it doesn't need improvement, but neglecting deeper understanding to focus on test scores is not the answer. I've dealt with a lot of college students who did well in math in high school, sometimes even including calculus, but find themselves flunking university calculus and/or linear algebra. Why? Because they are used to just following a prescribed set of steps without understanding what's going on. Unfortunately, standard curricula are often geared toward that. That kind of approach can get you through most standardized tests but it can't get you anywhere in life.

one old man
Ogden, UT

But doing that might mean someone in power would actually have to THINK for awhile. Politicians don't like to do that.

Too much effort.

USS Enterprise, UT

While this seems like a good idea, it is doomed to failure. Look at who evaluates the teachers. You have the trained specialists, who will most likely be former teachers, and the students. The former teachers will end up passing or praising teachers no matter how bad they really are. Then, with the students being factored in, you will have teachers pandering to the students.

If you want to make things better it is simple.

1. Cut the amount of standardized testing. We are not educating standardized kids.

2. Parents need to demand higher standards in education.

3. Teachers need to have the ability to discipline the classrooms. Between the crazy laws and parents who are in denial of their kids behavior, there is a lot of time lost in the classroom to disruptions.

Before plans like what the article describes can be implemented you need to ask, how are things being measured? Is it based on something that is measurable, or is it based on opinion? If it is not measurable, it is easily corruptable.

John C. C.
Payson, UT

Many people want to copy the teaching methods used in countries with higher scores, but they don't want to copy the respect, pay, and support given to the teachers.

Deep Space 9, Ut

To "John C. C." the teachers don't want to deal with what teachers in other nations deal with either.

For example, in Asia, they often have 50 to 60 kids in their classes.

In Europe teachers in some nations lose their jobs if they under perform.

As for pay, 2/3 of the world pay their teachers LESS than their US counterparts.

What do you want to emulate from other countries? It is easy to say, lets take the best from each nation, but what do you want to do in the end. From what I have seen, the US teacher's unions will not like their teachers losing jobs for poor performand, nor will they accept the large classrooms, and would absolutely hate the pay cut.

Tell us, what do you want to change that the government can actually chage?

John C. C.
Payson, UT

Redshirt1701, I respond with references:

Class Size? Asian classes are bigger, but you exaggerate. Besides, their students strictly obey and respect teachers. 2010 Statistics from OECD 2012 publication: China 37-53; Japan 28-32; Korea 28-34; Indonesia 27-35; Turkey 26-27; U.S 20-22; Russia 17-18

Job security? US teachers also lose their jobs if they do poorly. Read the contracts on any Utah district website.

Pay? From OECD Education at a Glance, 2009 (developed nations): “The US ranks 20th of 29 nations for starting salary and 23rd out of 29 for salary after 15 years..”

In Singapore they get paid like lawyers and engineers and enjoy high prestige. In the U.S. they get paid like brick masons and nurses but are constantly under fire.

What can government do? Pay and respect.

Bonus Info:

1. According to OECD, 2007, “American teachers spend on average 1,080 hours teaching each year. Across the O.E.C.D., the average is 653 to 709 hours.

2. According to the 2010 PISA scores, of the 100 top nations the U.S. is 17th in reading, 31st in math, and 23rd in science.

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