Sam Redman's Musings

Random thoughts on a variety of subjects

How to determine teacher competency

by Sam Redman

In the NyTimes a recent article talked about a proposed plan by the New York Schools chancellor which would evaluate teachers based on performance and other appraisal techniques, instead of relying on the traditional methods of seniority to insure continued employment. He said that he was wanting to adopt more of the methods of the business world in evaluating employee performance. You can read that particular article by clicking here.

If the effort is to make the school utilize ways of business then the very best corporate management method known should be embraced. It is known as “Management by Objectives” (with appropriate credit to Peter F. Drucker). Stated simplistically, it’s not the procedure (such as classroom style or technique), but the end results which count. But, also, in order to evaluate performance (in other words, have a measurement for realistic objectives being met) you must understand the challenge in each situation.

I liked the concept mentioned in the article of a “mix of factors,” which includes “student test score data” in determining teacher competency, but in order to be fair (to see if a teacher meets their objectives) an appraisal must be made which takes into account the true relative competency of the students and then compares that at the end of the course with what they have learned.

At the start of the year all the students in any class must be gauged with an evaluation like the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, the standardized test which measures intelligence and cognitive abilities. Then all those students should also be given a test which evaluates their current level of knowledge and competency in the particular subject being taught. Another test should describe aptitude for that particular discipline (for example, some students have spatial perception deficiencies, but show aptitude for deductive reasoning, or the reverse). Each student’s history of work habits should also have a measurement. All those tests and evaluations combined will produce a calculated rating for each student which projects their “teach-ability,” similar to the way professional gamblers handicap thoroughbreds at the racetrack.

Then at the end of the year, the “student score data” is gathered from exams which measure what they have learned compared to what is required for competency in that subject. Now, all that data can be evaluated by computer and a given teacher’s real ability can be a generated number which scientifically takes into consideration the teacher’s accomplishment relative to what type of students he or she taught in that session. Some good teachers can get praiseworthy performance from unremarkable students, but to use another gambling metaphor, this type of measurement takes into consideration what “hand the teacher was dealt” each time.

Observations are truely irrelevant from the so-called “experts” who watch the teacher and give ratings. Some of the best teachers are often quite unorthodox. In the true business world of the objective management system, the method is immaterial… it’s results that count.

If a teacher receives a high rating based on the factors, which I described, then they are meeting their objectives. That’s the teacher whose job should be secure.


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This entry was posted on April 25, 2010 by and tagged , , .