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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Teachers aren’t fired for teaching badly

Teachers aren’t fired very often — and almost never for teaching badly, write Amy Cummings and Nate Malkus on AEI.

Miami University’s Andrew Saultz analyzed 136 teacher dismissals in the Atlanta area from 2011 to 2017. Only four percent cited teaching as a primary reason, note Cummings and Malkus.

In Atlanta Public Schools, for example, just three of 92 cases directly mentioned teaching practice or evaluations. Meanwhile, more than three times as many teachers were dismissed for not having secured or maintained necessary training. Other cases mention teachers “fail[ing] to report to work during pre-planning days,” “us[ing] undue physical force with students (hitting, pinching, grabbing) with the intention of producing discomfort,” and “submi[tting] of questionable receipts and requests for reimbursement.”

Less than one percent of teachers are rated “unsatisfactory,” concluded the New Teacher Project  in 2009 in The Widget Effect. In response, “several states — including Georgia — adopted teacher-evaluation reforms aimed at obtaining a more accurate measurement of teacher effectiveness, write Cummings and Malkus, but little has changed.

It’s not credible that almost 100 percent of employees — in any profession — are competent, they conclude. In a Public Agenda survey, only 19 percent of teachers said no teachers in their school “fail to do a good job and are simply going through the motions.”

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