To the Editor:
In the article “Principals are Loath to Give Their Teachers Bad Ratings” (July 13, 2017), Marilyn Boerke, a director of district talent development in Washington state, is quoted as saying, “If you haven’t repeatedly gone into the classroom and given suggestions for improvements, it’s not really fair to give a poor evaluation.”
It is not only unfair, it is unethical. But it happens all the time. First, let us be reminded of the fundamental purpose of assessment. Assessment is only as good as the information gathered and its application to the improvement of the teacher. Keeping that in mind, it is extremely important to provide an assessment plan that includes a variety of classroom observations as well as teacher feedback. The reality is that school administrators do not have time to do that. And it is extremely expensive to hire more administrators.
The solution is to hire retired teachers through a college or university to provide that service. Not only would they have more time, they would have the experience to assess and respond to the needs of the teachers. The issue must no longer be about a poor vs. a good evaluation. It is no longer about power, ego, and control by school administrators. The issue is about the quality of education and providing students the best possible teachers available. Whenwe focus on the needs of students, the educational world will turn upside down. Assessment, in turn, will be on an even playing field.
Eldon “Cap” Lee
A version of this article appeared in the August 30, 2017 edition of Education Week as Hire Retired Educators for Classroom Observations