Pressured by a state mandate, the Polk County school district in Florida has devised a new teacher-evaluation system that relies on student course grades, according to a local news site. The change means, by all appearances, that teachers who have better students—or who are just easier graders—would have a greater chance at getting a good review.
Critics note that special education teachers and teachers of low-income students, in particular, could be unfairly penalized. “They [teachers] hate it,” said Marianne Capoziello, the local teachers’ union president. “They don’t hate it because they are afraid of performance being assessed; they hate it because it doesn’t seem to be a level playing field, especially for teachers working with at risk students.”
Bill Strause, the district’s director of professional development, acknowledged that teachers don’t like the change, but noted that “no one [had] a better system.” He also said that the district’s previous evaluations relied too heavily on subjective judgment.
But one principal quoted suggested that rating teachers on the basis of student performance isn’t an improvement. “I just measure on whether they can teach or not,” said Mark Thomas of Lakeland High School.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.