The New Teacher Project thinks so. The teacher quality research and advocacy group based in Brooklyn, NY, criticizes the way in which teachers are evaluated in a new report titled “The Widget Effect.”
Researchers analyzed the evaluations of teachers in about a dozen districts, from Chicago, Ill., to Little Rock, Ark. They concluded, among other things, that rookie teachers receive little support, that ineffective teachers with tenure are rarely dismissed for poor performance, and that “… on paper, almost every teacher is a great teacher…”
You can find the report here.
Here’s an excerpt:
The failure of evaluation systems to provide accurate and credible information about individual
teachers’ instructional performance sustains and reinforces a phenomenon that we have come to call the Widget Effect. The Widget Effect describes the tendency of school districts to assume classroom effectiveness is the same from teacher to teacher. This decades-old fallacy fosters an environment in which teachers cease to be understood as individual professionals, but rather as interchangeable parts. In its denial of individual strengths and weaknesses, it is deeply disrespectful to teachers; in its indifference to instructional effectiveness, it gambles with the lives of students.
Researchers said teachers often expect that they will be rated as top performers; more than 94 percent receive one of the top two ratings. They also found that evaluations are infrequent and short, and that about 3 of every 4 reviews lacked specific feedback about ways to improve or support they would receive.
Do you agree that teachers are treated like interchangeable parts? Do you think schools and districts would benefit from a more rigorous evaluation system that — as researchers suggest — separates the great from the good from the fair from the poor? If so, how should that information be used? Should it help determine a teacher’s placement or compensation?
photo from RBerteig’s photostream at flickr.com/creativecommons