Mr. Parello Sensei

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 25 2013

Does California really have teachers who never receive evaluations?

Teachers, like any other profession, should be evaluated and held accountable for their job performance.  I don’t honestly know anyone who doesn’t believe this.  If you listen to many of the ed reformers though, you’d think otherwise.  I found this rather bizarre tweet from a StudentsFirst blogger in my Twitter feed today, retweeted by StudentsFirst themselves:

“Under the current system, a freshman can graduate h.s. without ever having a teacher that has been evaluated.”

Come again?  In California, provisional teachers are evaluated every year, and permanent teachers are evaluated every other year until the 10th year, after which they are evaluated once every five years.  This means multiple observations and feedback over the course of any year when they are being evaluated.  A twenty year veteran, for example, would have gone through eight years when they are under evaluation.  Now I think the evaluation process in California needs massive improvement, but it’s very false and misleading to say that a freshmen could graduate high school without ever having a teacher who has been evaluated.

I tweeted her back to point out the untruth of the statement, and she replied that since permanent teachers (she never mentioned permanent after ten years of employment) are evaluated every five years, a student could go through high school having teachers that did not receive evaluations while they were there.  It’s easy to see that that is a vastly different claim than what her original tweet implied.   It is currently impossible for a student to undergo any schooling with a teacher, unless it’s with a first year teacher, who has never been evaluated.

Now, I know that her opinions are her own even though she works with Students First and was retweeted by them, but this tactic of making grandiose and overstated claims has become very common among other more high profile ed reformers as well.  In March, Gary Rubinstein called out Wendy Kopp for her claim that the students of TFA alums made one year of additional learning compared to the students of non-TFA alums. 

California’s evaluation system needs an overhaul; I’m no defender of the “status quo” on this.  But it seems like people trying to forge reasonable positions on improving education and achieving educational equity are constantly confronted with outrageous claims.

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