An English and journalism teacher for six years, Coleen Bondy ranked as low average in her effect on students’ test scores this year. The value-added scores — based only on her least-motivated students — are “practically useless in evaluating teacher performance,” she writes in a Los Angeles Times op-ed.
It’s hard for those who finished high school 20 or 30 years ago, as I did, to fathom the conditions in a typical L.A. Unified high school classroom these days. Classes are huge. Students face overwhelming family and social issues. Drugs are rampant. Students are incredibly disrespectful, testing authority constantly at the beginning of the year. Teachers must be able to get a strong grip on their classes all by themselves because consequences for bad behavior in class are often nonexistent outside it.
. . . Today’s teacher must be highly skilled in her subject matter just to make it into the classroom, more so than at any other time in the history of education. She also must play the role of parent, custodian, psychologist, drug and alcohol interventionist and parole officer, to name a few.
“Society has decided to blame many of its failings on teachers,” Bondy writes.
If teachers can’t be evaluated fairly based on their students’ progress (compared to their previous progress’ rates) and they can’t be evaluated based on classroom observations, how can they be evaluated?