To the Editor:
Articles in a recent issue of Education Week got me thinking (“Principal Appraisals Get a Remake” and “Feds, States Dicker Over Evaluations,” March 6, 2013). Throughout history, there are numerous examples of smart people who have made poor decisions. At the time, they may have thought that the decision seemed logical, appropriate, and promised that positive changes would result.
We have all read stories of well-respected people who have made incredibly ill-conceived statements, policies, and proclamations that in hindsight were misguided, shortsighted, and downright wrong.
The new Annual Professional Performance Review, or APPR, plan that is being initiated across many states is one such policy that ties principal appraisals to student test scores. The policy, in all its incarnations, is believed to be filled with good intentions, of course.
If its backers took a harder, less expedient look, they would find that the idea is incredibly misguided on many different levels, so much so that it is hard to understand how it could become the law. (Remember those “smart” people I mentioned above.)
It is utter madness to think that having students bubble-in answers on a test that can take several hours over a three-day span constitutes a “good education.” Never mind the fact that the narrowing of the curriculum will inhibit students from taking courses that provide them with a well-rounded education.
To judge teachers or principals on tests that were not designed for that purpose is ill-advised on many levels. To have a system that is unproven, not reliable, and worst of all based on a “gotcha” mentality is just wrong.
Should teachers and administrators be held accountable for results? Of course. Let’s create a system that is logical, can be done in the time frame given, and includes a common-sense approach to the process.
Suffolk County Middle Level Principal Association
Long Island, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the April 03, 2013 edition of Education Week as Good Intentions Do Not Ensure Good Results