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.

2 thoughts on “Defining “Good” and “Bad” Teaching

  1. Amy, I hope you posted this blog entry on the Globe page itself as well as here. There’s a lot of misinformation overflowing in the comments that follow the article.
    Best to you this Spring,

  2. Amy, I feel your anger. I had to deal with these slurs and elitist comments for years. Teachers of inner-city children, low performing schools, and special populations deal with this snobbery every day. These slanders would not last two weeks in these hard situations. Please read my blog starting with the post (Bad Schools and Bad Teachers).

    Keep up the writing, it is good therapy!

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