The Ugly Side of “Teacher Effectiveness” Scores
The LA Times has decided that it is the right of each and every tax-payer to know the “teacher-effectiveness” scores of the teaching professionals in their area. As a large public service, and one that commands a great deal of budgetary dollars, they believed that this heightened level of accountability would result in better education.
I’ve argued in more than one blog post how absolutely untrue this is.
While I can understand a need for greater accountability, and can empathize with the pressure politicians feel to make sure they are getting the best bang for their buck and results for the future when it comes to education, this is simply inappropriate and false.
To believe that you can boil down a teacher’s effectiveness to a number is preposterous in a job that has so many determining factors. Added to that is the compound factor that the two numbers this “effectiveness” quotient depends upon, is a child’s score on a standardized test, before and after coming into contact with said teacher.
It quite simply is beating up on your front-line soldiers. It is demoralizing teachers, and spreading discontent and also gross misunderstanding about the job that we do and the way in which we do it.
It also had proven to be too much for some.
In the very same publication that chose to publish these teacher scores, the LA TIMES reported on Tuesday last week of the suicide of a beloved teacher in LA. Rigoberto Ruelas taught in a gang-ridden, tough neighbourhood and “always reached out to the toughest kids.”
The article stated: “Teachers union President A.J. Duffy said his staff was told by Ruelas’ family that the teacher was depressed about his score on a teacher-rating database posted by The Times on its website. The newspaper analyzed seven years of student test scores in English and math to determine how much students’ performance improved under about 6,000 third- through fifth-grade teachers. Based on The Times’ findings, Ruelas was rated “average” in his ability to raise students’ English scores and “less effective” in his ability to raise math scores. Overall, he was rated slightly “less effective” than his peers.
“Despite The Times’ analysis, and all other measures, this was a really good teacher,” said Duffy, who called on the newspaper to take down the database. Many parents also asked that Ruelas’ page on The Times’ website be taken down.
I know that there were potentially many other factors in the death of Mr. Ruelas.
Perhaps that is what the LA Times would like us to consider as we reflect on this incident.
Perhaps they too could consider the many factors that affect “teacher-effectiveness” too, and extend us teachers the same courtesy.
May Mr. Ruelas be remembered fondly, and may the impact he did have as a teacher live on.