Young teachers support evaluation reform

Newer teachers are willing to be evaluated on their students’ academic growth, according to two new surveys, writes Jay Mathews in the Washington Post.

In the Teach Plus survey, 71 percent with 10 years or less in the classroom said student academic growth should be part of their evaluations, while just 41 percent of the more experienced group (11+ years) agreed. Education Sector compared teachers with less than five years of experience and those with 20+ years: 56 percent of newer teachers and 50 percent of older ones supported measuring teacher effectiveness using student growth models.

Sixty percent of the newer Teach Plus survey teachers said they were interested in changing “compensation and tenure systems.” Just 20 percent of the older teachers had that view. The Education Sector survey teachers appeared more supportive of moving in that direction: Ninety-one percent of the newer teachers and 75 percent of the older ones supported unions taking a role in simplifying the process of removing ineffective teachers.

The American Federation of Teachers’ proposal to make it harder to enter teaching will raise teacher quality, writes Marc Tucker in his Ed Week blog.

High-status professions “do a lousy job of getting rid of their worst performers,” but make it hard to get into professional school and to pass licensing exams, Tucker writes. “We will get quality teachers not by firing the worst but by recruiting, training and hiring the best.”

Higher standards mean better performance, which meets the interest of the public.  But higher standards also means that fewer people are able to enter the profession, and fewer members curtails supply, which means higher compensation for those who get in.  The professionals get higher compensation and the public gets higher student achievement. Everyone wins.

The National Education Association also has come out for “national standards for the preparation, licensing and certification of educators,”  Tucker writes.

Younger teachers . . . want to work in a truly professional environment where competence and achievement count for more than seniority, where distinctions in responsibility and authority among teachers are made and made on the basis of their demonstrated accomplishments in the classroom.

The U.S. has “prized cheap teachers over good teachers,” lowering standards whenever there’s a shortage, Tucker writes. “A very large fraction” of would-be teachers today will not be able to meet high-quality licensure standards.

Attracting the young people who could pass the new “bar exams” would require us, the public, to be willing to pay teachers more, invest in our teacher training institutions to make their quality comparable to that of the institutions that train our doctors and engineers, improve the quality of school leadership so that schools become attractive professional workplaces and offer teachers the kind of professional autonomy that high status professionals have.
We could pay for it by training fewer teachers and retaining them longer, Tucker argues.
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Comments

  1. CarolineSF says:

    As a person of non-fresh-faced-beginnerhood myself, I’m interested to see folks no more youthful or inexperienced than myself (Jay Mathews and Joanne Jacobs) implicitly promoting the notion that beginners know best and experience is not just useless but corrupting. I’m sort of glad that my employer doesn’t see it that way.

    • I suppose if you’re repelled by the idea of demonstrating your professional competence there’s got to be a reason.

  2. Matt Fanny says:

    An interesting argument; but rather pointless. Ask any administrator in any school system in the nation- when the bell rings, you have to have a warm body in the classroom, quality be damned. If you make it harder to be a teacher, you wind up with fewer teachers. If you don’t have enough teachers to put one in each class, then what are your options? Oh, we’ll just use subs- what about quality then?

  3. As an attorney-turned-teacher, I have a lot to say about this matter of creating a bar exam for teachers. First of all, I’ve seen no mention of the exceptional cost of educating higher status professions like lawyers & doctors. Not only is the schooling extremely expensive, but most people can’t work and go to school at the same time. This amounts to huge loans for these students, if you’re not lucky enough to have someone foot the bill. Second, after graduating you have months of studying during which you can’t work and spend thousands of dollars on exams and exam prep fees! My bar exam experience cost more than 15k. And I was lucky to pass the first time! It costs thousands more to do it again. How would this work for teachers? You expect higher level students to spend this amount of money and then make pittance. I clearly expected to continue in law and make a lot of money, but my passion was in the classroom. Luckily, although I still have thousands in loan debt, I have a husband that supports my decision and makes up for my lost income. As a high-performing I never chose teaching because I knew I wouldn’t make much. Many college students will continue to think this way, esp. when they may have no idea where their true passion lies. Let’s be real about the costs involved in a system such as this and whether we want teaching to be a profession for those wealthy enough to afford the experience (or those willing to shoulder the debt burden). Not to mention, do we further want education (the core of our democracy) to become a privatized/money-making system? I already took several exams here in my state and course work for “no child left behind” requirements. I consider it a complete waste of time and money. None of that made me a better teacher. I know several “smart” people that couldn’t cut it as teachers. As an attorney who practiced several years, teaching is far more difficult in so many ways. Teaching has so much more to do with your ability to pass a test! I find this bar exam nonsense nothing more than another reason to beat up on hard-working teachers and for testing companies and other orgs to make more money. Instead, focus on training and equitable resource funding. Most high-achieving urban teachers (such as myself) leave teaching within the first few years (“the irreplaceables”) because there is no support and no recognition for hard work. We should focus on changing the system of evaluation and recognition from the inside, not by creating an entirely new monster in the form of a bar exam!

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      Having gone to law school in my misbegotten youth, I second just about everything Ashley says.

      However, there is a potential contradiction in her post. She says that course work she did for No Child Left Behind was “a complete waste of time and money.” But then she says that we should “focus on training.” Most of what we call training in this business consists of such useless course work.

      I suspect there are two reasons for that. Since we are in the business of giving courses, we naturally tend to think they are more important than they are. But perhaps more important, no one really knows how to train good teachers. Hell, we can’t even decide on who is a good teacher or what makes a good teacher. So we do like the misquote from the Wizard of Oz, “I can’t give you a brain but I can give you a diploma.”

  4. I would agree if I believed the best teachers would be paid more. The older teachers would be paid more if they were the better teachers.

    What I imagine will happen is nobody will get a raise, and everyone will have to meet arbitrary and ridiculous benchmarks goals proving or disproving that they are a good teacher. They’ll be highly effective one year, and improvement necessary the next… and making a max of 42K a year.