To the Editor:
In the Commentary “The High Stakes of Teacher Evaluation” (June 6, 2012), the author indicates that thoughtless teacher evaluations may trigger an exodus of teachers. Take that to the next step: Who will be willing to teach in the future? Zestful reformers, eager to improve teacher effectiveness, challenge teachers to “get it right or get out”? With memories of the No Child Left Behind Act’s punitive measures lingering, we add student test scores to teacher evaluation, which, sadly, may lack validity year to year.
Would-be teachers, beware. Reformers ignore the issue of why educators enter and remain in the profession. Shouldn’t we research further the concept of dedication—the willingness to commit to a career that has low status and pay—and include the findings in the reform efforts? We cannot assume teaching desire is a constant. An educator’s passion and creativity will be adversely affected by the increased use of reformer-directed lock-step lesson plans, robotic teaching methods and threats of reduced benefits and termination, all in the name of teacher improvement.
Unfortunately, teacher enthusiasm and job satisfaction do not transfer well to reformers’ statistical reports on instructional improvement, but these are major factors that keep educators in the field. Ignore that, and we will face an even greater effectiveness issue when we start a new school year and the teachers are absent.
A version of this article appeared in the July 18, 2012 edition of Education Week as Reformers Still Need to Retain Teachers