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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

No time to teach

Education reformers should pay attention to the time demands of their reforms, writes Rick Hess in Education Next. “Every hour that’s devoted to mindless, soul-sucking tasks is an hour that can’t be spent making a difference,” he writes. “This is true when teachers are patrolling hallways or lunchrooms, and it’s equally true when they’re sitting in meandering meetings or filling out pointless paperwork.”

In a recent survey, Nevada school leaders said they spend 19 days a year — 150 hours — on extra paperwork required by the state’s new teacher-evaluation system. That doesn’t include time spent observing teachers or providing feedback.

Principals across the state are required to fill out a summative 16-plus-page evaluation for each teacher. The evaluations are upwards of 20 pages for ineffective teachers, with three “pieces of evidence” required for dozens of indicators. (They) . . . report spending an average of more than three hours writing a summative evaluation for each teacher in the building.

All reforms — teacher evaluation, school accountability, School Improvement Grants, the Common Core, new grading policies, restorative justice processes — “invariably entail added meetings, extensive planning documents, new reporting requirements, new trainings and minutiae,” concludes Hess. It all adds to “the clutter that can drive responsible professionals to distraction.”

Reformers need to be aware up front of the time demands of their ideas, he argues. Is this worth it?

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