the corner office

a blog, by Colin Pretorius

Teacher rankings

The LA Times has done something which is causing a bit of a stir in the USA. Instead of the usual ranking of schools and districts etc etc, they've taken school data and are ranking individual teachers. Teachers are ranked based on the progress of their pupils, based on how pupils' own marks improve or deteriorate. The article (via) makes for interesting reading.

The harshest part of it is what it means for teachers (the article has a good few examples). What if the data suggests that you're one of the worst teachers in the district? How do you step into a classroom and face children who know this, and are likely to make sure you know they know, how do you even try to teach effectively or improve when parents are flocking to the principal insisting that their kids be removed from your class? Unions are already rather unhappy.

Yet if our education systems really are all about the children, if education is really that important, then are these problems not worth the benefits? On what grounds could you really object?

One criticism which could be levelled is that the ranking methodology isn't fair or representative of real performance. It may result in unfair ratings for some teachers. A counter-argument would be that these sorts of systems would improve over time, especially so as they get used and researched and refined. The main one comes back to the thing we like to believe the most: if education is that important, should such systems be derailed or prohibited because of a few false readings?

{2010.08.20 15:09}

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