The Measure Teaching Effectiveness Consensus

An underreported and potentially important sea change is underway in K-12 public schooling. It’s the somewhat natural culmination of a two decade-long emphasis on increased teacher accountability for student learning.

Rather than improving compensation and making entry into the profession more challenging, rather than empowering proven teacher leaders to improve schools, rather than increasing parent and family accountability for student learning, the highest ranking and most influential policy makers are in agreement that our ability to compete in the global economy depends upon better schooling, better schooling depends upon increased teacher accountability for student learning, increased teacher accountability requires measuring teaching effectiveness. There are parallel pushes to measure school leadership and teacher education program effectiveness.

Like the vast majority of K-12 teachers, I’m not opposed to the concept of teacher and administrator accountability, but it seems as if more time, energy, and resources have been put into planning the negative consequences of teaching and administrative ineffectiveness than into incentives for teaching and administrative excellence. The primary negative consequence of teaching and administrative ineffectiveness will be closing schools and reassigning (if the unions still hold any sway) or dismissing altogether (if they don’t) the administrators and faculty at the worst performing schools.

This “measure teaching effectiveness consensus” raises many questions that Arne’s Army seemingly has little patience for. Among them. . .

• How does one best measure teaching effectiveness?

• More specifically, if the Information Revolution is making knowledge transmission and recall less salient, how does one quantify increasingly important student skills and sensibilities like writing, problem solving, cross cultural understanding, teamwork, empathy, and resilience?

• How does one control for independent variables like differing degrees of outside of school support?

• Will an emphasis on individual teacher’s relative effectiveness contribute to even greater professional isolation to the detriment of student learning?

• What might the effects of steadily increasing accountability be on talented young people considering teaching as a career independent of improved compensation?

• Why, when top-down experts with little to no teaching experience are in the process of reshaping their profession based upon business model precepts, aren’t more teachers asking these types of questions?

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