Autonomy requires evaluation

You can’t have it both ways, writes Teaching in the 408.

As teachers, you cannot simultaneously negotiate evaluation-proof work conditions on the one hand, and instructional autonomy on the other. If evaluations continue to focus on teacher actions — objectives posted, adherence to 5-step lesson plan, etc. — rather than student outcomes, if there continues to be no accepted tool to measure teacher effectiveness, if we reject the very notion that certain educators may be superior instructors because of what they do and not what the kids bring relative to their demographics, than you don’t get autonomy. You can’t.

Teachers do need autonomy, he writes.

Many state- and board-adopted curricula are damn near awful, poorly designed and poorly realized. Which is somewhat besides the point, because there is no program in existence that can meet the needs of all learners all of the time, no matter how faithfully implemented. It is more than naive and foolish to think otherwise. At the same time, it’s probably equally naive to assume that if teachers were given carte blanche to do as they will, student achievement would dramatically increase. It can’t, not in the absence of true accountability and valid assessment.

Read the comments too.

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  1. Hear hear!

  2. Indeed. But what many miss in this whole argument is that it’s not a question of autonomy v. no autonomy. It’s a question of what degree of autonomy is appropriate. It isn’t an all or nothing proposition.