OK, I lied. I only had one question left. It bothers me that there's 38 questions, not 40 or 35. Whatever.
#38. How do you think we can best evaluate teachers, on a professional/national level?
This is quite the topic now, isn't it? And the honest answer I have is: I don't know.
Hey! Cut me a break! I've only been teaching 3 years.
I think there needs to be SOME reflection of student learning in the teacher evaluation. SOME. Maybe it could count for 1/4 of the total score, simply because (you know it, I know it, but I've gotta complete the thought) there are WAY too many other factors influencing that learning: health habits, social interactions, familial dynamics, etc. I don't feel comfortable with standardized tests, but let's be honest, they do have one thing going for them: they're quick. The Powers That Be can score them quickly and get instant results (and don't Americans want everything to be instantaneous?). When we're talking about millions of school children, well, it's just a little easier that something that requires qualitative evaluation.
Before we can really work out effective evaluations of teachers, there needs to be evaluation of administration. All over the country, elected officials are pointing their fingers at teachers. The assumption here is that administrations are doing their jobs. But wait a minute! *DRAMATIC MUSIC*
If these teachers were really ineffective, shouldn't they ALREADY be gone? If administrators were doing their jobs, shouldn't they have seen these teachers as ineffective and gotten rid of them already? The minute you bring administration into the picture, teachers begin relating horror stories: never once visited by an AP or P in their first year, AP falling asleep during observation, observation evaluation is short and valueless, post-observation evaluation never even happens...the horror stories go on. Maybe I'm just passing the blame, but I think before we can figure out how to assess teachers, we need to make sure the people doing the assessing are upholding their responsibilities as well.
So, after all that...if I were to work out an evaluation process, it would be on a much smaller scale, perhaps county-run. It would likely involve a teacher portfolio of lesson plans, parent communication, pre- and post-assessments, copies of administrative evaluations, and evidence of professional development. Included in that portfolio might be a set of state test results, but it could account no more than a quarter of the overall score. It would be done every few years, regardless of tenure.
But what do you think?