Wednesday, January 09, 2013

E4E Member Demands Evaluation Process

by guest blogger Suzy Surething

As a beginning teacher, I need guidance. Under the current evaluation system, I'm simply not getting what I need. I mean, sure, my AP observed me, and said I was unsatisfactory. But what does that really mean? I really need to know whether or not I am excellent or ineffective, and this observation does not measure that at all.

For example, I was criticized because several students were throwing chairs out the window, and my AP claimed that was a safety hazard. Now I'm not saying it was not a safety hazard, because it's true that anyone traipsing through the courtyard could have been hit in the head by one of the chairs, and when the teacher desk went out, I must admit I too had some concerns. But the problem is the narrow focus on things like what actually goes on in the classroom.

I can't argue that the three fistfights that broke out during the period were ideal, especially when the AP tried to break up the last one and suffered a broken jaw. And the ambulances outside the window did prove a huge distraction to my class. It was hard to teach while the various victims were being wheeled out by the paramedics. I think, in fact, that my AP should have taken that into account. I'm also upset that I would get this observation. The fact is, thirty minutes into the period, the AP was taken to the hospital, and we at E4E believe there should be full period observations.

But what really bothers me is that this observation does not take into account the most important aspect of what I do--standardized test scores. I will admit there are a few issues in my classroom, but who's to say that they won't show excellent gains by June if we continue with the program? I really can't depend on these observation reports that don't show what value I added.

Sure, there are cynics and skeptics who ask, well, Suzy, why don't you design your own tests and see how the kids do? Well, honestly, do they really think that I could design a test like the good folks at Pearson education? I mean, if I knew how to design tests, why would we even need companies like Pearson?

In any case, I have tried giving my own tests, with varying degrees of success. The last time I did that, though, the boy in the third row said it was too hard, and set the classroom on fire. Well, between the fire alarms and the evacuation, it was impossible for me to collect all the papers before they burned. And I don't mind telling you that I got another observation report that day, again for less than a full period. This is just one more reason why we need a fair evaluation system that uses standardized testing. I'm tired of being judged by what goes on in my classroom. The only true measure of whether or not my students are learning is to see whether they improve on tests.

And I know I am not unsatisfactory. I am excellent. Once we have a true evaluation system in place, I will prove that. Or I will get a good-paying gig with E4E so I don't have to bother with the classroom again. Either way, it's important we get a good evaluation system in place.
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