Teachers can get more respect if they police their own profession, taking the lead in developing ways to get rid of incompetent teachers, writes Dan Willingham on Britannica Blog.
The presence of a small percentage of incompetent teachers has an outsize impact on the respect that the profession garners. Social psychologists have known for years that stereotypes are fed, in part, through selective attention. If a parent believes that there are a lot of bad teachers, he is likely to think about and notice the single bad teacher in a school and fail to notice the 129 good-to-outstanding teachers.
. . . The presence of a small number of poor teachers also has an outsize impact on the respect for the unions themselves. Deserved or not, unions have the reputation of protecting the rights of individual teachers at all costs, no matter how incompetent the teacher.
He thinks this is important for the teaching profession, but won’t make a big difference in school effectiveness.
Like Eduwonk, I think Willingham underestimates the number of non-performing teachers — and the benefits of firing them. I remember a fourth-grade teacher telling me that half her students came from the class of a third-grade teacher who did no teaching, though she was big on hugs. The students had lost a year. The other half had been taught the third-grade curriculum and were ready, more or less, for fourth-grade work.
Evaluating teacher effectiveness is not for the faint-hearted, of course. In Harvard Education Letter, Richard Rothman analyzes the challenges in implementing “value-added” measures to distinguish excellent, good, mediocre and poor teachers.