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Teachers Are Still Dissatisfied

Educators have long agreed with researchers about the weaknesses of evaluation methods. Robert Wolf (1973) reported the following:

Teachers...believe that the standards for evaluating...are too vague and ambiguous to be worth anything. They feel that current appraisal techniques fall short of collecting information that accurately characterizes their performance. They perceive the ultimate rating as depending more on the idiosyncrasies of the rater rather than on their own behavior in the classroom. As a result, teachers see nothing to be gained from evaluation. ...present teacher evaluation practice does more to interfere with professional quality teaching than to nurture it.

(Wolf, 1973, p. 160)

It seems as though little has changed since Robert Wolf was conducting his research on teacher evaluations in the 1970s.

In an article in the Miami Herald (Gurney, 2016, n.p.) one teacher expressed his frustration, ""They're killing us this year with morale," said Shawn Beightol, a chemistry teacher at John A. Ferguson Senior High School. "It's like the straw that broke the camel's back. There are teachers quitting right now because of this." Teachers are quitting and high-school and college students are not even considering the profession because of teacher evaluations.

Kraft et al. (2018) laid out the scenario pretty plainly: people are choosing to avoid the education profession because of high-stakes evaluations. Charlotte Danielson, the creator of one widely used evaluation system, has herself expressed concern that nurturing great teaching has become a difficult task to complete in policy and practice (Danielson, 2016). Danielson elaborated, "I'm deeply troubled by the transformation of teaching from a complex profession requiring nuanced judgement to the performance of certain behaviors that can be ticked off on a checklist" (Danielson, 2016, n.p.). Danielson argued that future evaluation systems should encourage professional learning, inquiry and trust.

Why are these systems so ineffective? I argue current systems don't work because they all rest on false assumptions. The maturation of teaching quality rubrics defining the work will never be able to match the complexity and nuance of teaching. Creating and using complex documents actually hinders the maturation of effective teaching.

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