Comments on: What education reformers did with student surveys http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/23/what-education-reformers-did-with-student-surveys/ A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 By: EllieK http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/23/what-education-reformers-did-with-student-surveys/comment-page-1/#comment-43583 Tue, 02 Oct 2012 12:32:07 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18120#comment-43583 Nice article, Felix! Thank you for covering this topic. I agree with you, for the most part. Over-reliance on metrics that are implemented in a centrally organized or generic way is not likely to improve teaching and quality of education.

Felix, you made an analogy with quantitative risk measures, and how (mis-)usage of such has over-simplified financial transactions risk. In education, it is even more egregious to rely on metrics, computer aggregated data, and a system of student critiques of teaching staff. My point is this: At least the individuals who were in charge of risk management in banking were adults. (They might not have behaved maturely, but they had the cognitive maturity to know how to). High school, or middle or elementary school students are children. As others have said, one needs to spend time as a teacher or educator or hall warden in a junior high school to realize how minors can be. They aren’t ill-willed or malicious, but they ARE still learning, and still in a nascent stage of cognitive and social development.

Let’s put that aside though. Without the passage of time, it is non-obvious whether a teacher is good or not. Very obvious measures such as teacher absentee rate exist, of course. Yet that doesn’t require sophisticated new metrics or methods to gauge accurately.

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By: brady41 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/23/what-education-reformers-did-with-student-surveys/comment-page-1/#comment-43467 Wed, 26 Sep 2012 18:00:48 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18120#comment-43467 “There’s a reason why certain schools develop a reputation for excellence which can last for centuries: there’s something institutional going on, a virtuous circle which lifts up everybody.”

I read today a lengthy article about long-time systemic cheating in a well-known, well-respected NYC High School. That seems to contradict the basis of most of your argument.

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By: TFF17 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/23/what-education-reformers-did-with-student-surveys/comment-page-1/#comment-43462 Wed, 26 Sep 2012 15:17:39 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18120#comment-43462 @jdmeth, you have a much better shot of measuring student performance than you do of assigning credit/blame for that performance to a specific teacher.

If you see public education as a “profitable feather bed”, then you’ve clearly never tried it yourself. Give it a few years and then tell me what you think. It is the toughest job I’ve ever tried.

Besides, you CAN evaluate teacher performance, quite effectively. But your best bet is to actually look at what the teacher is doing. Too many districts don’t bother to invest the effort in that endeavor.

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By: jdmeth http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/23/what-education-reformers-did-with-student-surveys/comment-page-1/#comment-43454 Tue, 25 Sep 2012 23:39:00 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18120#comment-43454 The only way to have good teachers in a school is to hire good teachers. What is this, New speak? You can’t grade teacher’s performance because students vary so much and tests results are not a indicator of what child has learned. By these standards every teacher is a good one and just showing up with a teaching credential guarantees a job for life!

We have had the same school system for over eighty years but still have not concrete way to reliably judge performance. Many foreign schools are rated superior to ours and their student scores are higher in most or all categories. Why this matters when supposedly you can’t test student performance leaves me to believe American educators have found a feather bed and have snuggled down for a profitable rest. In spite of all this many competent teachers find their way in to classrooms and at least a few students actually learn something. With automation and massive job shortages we don’t need many educated individuals anyway.

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By: KevyD http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/23/what-education-reformers-did-with-student-surveys/comment-page-1/#comment-43448 Tue, 25 Sep 2012 20:51:28 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18120#comment-43448 The study mentioned only 33% of teachers clicked on the email to see the results of the test. That means 67% of teachers aren’t able to use the results of the test to improve on their teaching methods. Tying pay/evaluations to this test would presumably mean teachers would be interested to see the test results and at the margin would at least allow teachers to know potential areas of improvement.

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By: ComradeAnon http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/23/what-education-reformers-did-with-student-surveys/comment-page-1/#comment-43432 Tue, 25 Sep 2012 15:02:52 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18120#comment-43432 Amanda Ripley may be writing about evaluating teachers, but the whole game in education is about privatization. These newer evaluations are just one aspect of how this will be carried out. Charter schools is the goal. Evaluations are nothing more than a way to start culling the current teachers. And the other side of the equation is now that we are doing things like parent-trigger laws, getting rid of collective bargaining and have been identifying teachers as “union thugs”, we can start to replace them with lower paid teachers. What was the first thing Rhee did as Superintendent of DC Schools? New teacher evaluation forms. Gates may think he’s helping students, but he’s playing right into the hands of Michele Rhee and the whole privatization movement.

Follow the money.

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By: TFF http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/23/what-education-reformers-did-with-student-surveys/comment-page-1/#comment-43421 Mon, 24 Sep 2012 23:50:07 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18120#comment-43421 @Curmudgeon, I would agree. The details of an evaluation system must be tailored to the district and school, and applied with professionalism. (I wonder if the US military forgot this part?) You also need appropriate checks against gaming the system.

But I would apply exactly the same cautions to quantitative systems. A standardized test that is appropriate to judge an inner city school is the wrong target for a wealthy suburban district. A test that is challenging for College-track students is insultingly easy for those in AP-track courses. And while there are many elements of teaching that cross all subjects, I don’t see how you can possibly create truly parallel assessment standards.

School districts are hard at work gaming the mandated state testing, “teaching to the test” instead of teaching the full curriculum. (The math test, for example, ends with basic Algebra and Geometry.) One local district even eliminated History from the (middle-school?) curriculum, so they could instead spend the extra period on the subjects that are tested.

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By: Curmudgeon http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/23/what-education-reformers-did-with-student-surveys/comment-page-1/#comment-43419 Mon, 24 Sep 2012 23:22:50 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18120#comment-43419 @TFF, and I’ve seen it fail elsewhere. I don’t think we’re going to come up with a qualitative system that works en masse. And it wasn’t my system, but that of the US military. In this case, if you received something less than a well above average, you would never make it very far. That how a qualitative system can be gamed.

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By: TFF http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/23/what-education-reformers-did-with-student-surveys/comment-page-1/#comment-43417 Mon, 24 Sep 2012 23:05:35 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18120#comment-43417 @Curmudgeon, I’ve *SEEN* it work in a teaching environment. It wasn’t new and it was already working well when I got there. It continued to work well for the five years I taught at that school. Probably still working a decade later, for all I know. (The school remains very strong.)

I do wish we could compare notes in more detail so that I might better understand why the system you reference was an abject failure while the system I experienced worked effectively?

Of course my pay never depended on these evaluations, and I wasn’t at all worried about my performance being graded “unsatisfactory”. I welcomed the classroom observations and learned from the feedback. Is that how your system worked?

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By: Curmudgeon http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/23/what-education-reformers-did-with-student-surveys/comment-page-1/#comment-43412 Mon, 24 Sep 2012 22:09:48 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18120#comment-43412 @TFF, but it doesn’t as a system. It is gamed, and after a few year, everyone is above average. We used semi-secret keywords, rather than an honest evaluation. You can’t make this work in a teaching environment. Sorry.

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