So what’s the alternative? If narrow, test-based evaluation of teachers is unfair, unreliable, and has negative effects on kids, classrooms, and curricula, what’s a better approach?
By demonizing teachers and unions, and sharply polarizing the education debate, the corporate reform movement has actually undermined serious efforts to improve teacher quality and evaluation. Corporate reform has detached these issues from the conditions that make improving teacher quality possible. Class sizes are growing and professional development budgets are shrinking. Federal and state plans are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into data systems and tests designed to replace collaborative professional culture and experienced instructional leadership with a kind of “psychometric astrology.” These data-driven formulas lack both statistical credibility and a basic understanding of the human motivations and relationships that make good schooling possible.
But better alternatives do exist. Beneath the polarizing, political rhetoric of current “reform” efforts, there is a considerable common ground among educators, parents, and administrators on the need for: