Defining “Good” and “Bad” Teaching

Since when does a nationally recognized newspaper purport expertise on what makes an effective teacher?

Since this morning, April 19, 2011 when the Boston Globe published an uncredited editorial entitled: Ed Commissioner’s Plan for Teacher Evaluation Gets It Right. Apparently all that is necessary for teacher evaluations is some evidence of the following:

Effective teachers routinely impart a year-and-a-half-gain in student achievement over the course of a single academic year. Three or four consecutive years of exposure to that level of instruction can eradicate the achievement gap between low-income and high-income students. Bad teachers routinely secure just a half-year of student progress over the same period.

That’s right, unless your students routinely make a year-and-a-half gain in the course of one academic year, you must be a “bad” teacher. Really? Where did you get that particular piece of data, Mr./Ms. Globe Editorial Writer?  Because if true, those teachers at high performing schools may not be “good” teachers — their students may not be growing academically by a year and a half either.

We all know that there is a real need for real evaluations of educators – and I include administrators too. I’ve taught under good ones and I taught under pathetic ones. I’ve also received children from teachers who clearly hadn’t a clue and that makes me crazy too. No child should have to put up with it either.

Clearly some kind of evaluation that is constructive is needed – as opposed to the punitive “everyone in education is crap” platitudes coming from business types who really haven’t a clue what it is to deal with a human and therefore ever-changing “product” or from newspaper editors who simply and insidiously use their highly inflammatory language to sell more newspapers.

So, Uncredited (do you really exists – show your face coward!) Globe Editorial Writer, if you have some data showing that “good” means a year and a half of growth please enlighten us. If you are pulling this data to support your thesis out of your rear-end or basing your editorial contribution on your own baggage and prejudices, you should be fired.