@LukeKohlmoos guest EDGEucator blogger and former director of teacher eval for state of Tennessee tells it like it is:
“Compared to what?” may be one of the most under-asked but most important questions in policy making and implementation. When you see surveys that indicate half of teachers think their evaluation process is helping to improve instruction in their schools there are a few different ways to react to that generally agreed upon fact:
- “What an insanely terrible policy. Only half of teachers think this huge and difficult process is helping ” … (compared to the ideal of 100% of teachers perceiving value).
- “This is great progress and a sign that we need to stay the course because with practice and improvements to the process more teachers are having a good experience ” … (compared to the year before when only 30% of teachers were perceiving value).
- “Something exists that 50% of all teachers say helps improve their instruction! That’s a freaking miracle! ” … (compared to when there was no polling about the value of an evaluation process because everyone agreed the process didn’t add value).
All three of those reactions are somewhat justified and make some sense based on the facts as they exist. How one person reacts probably says more about their preconceived ideas about what should be happening in education. But nobody ever really talks about their baseline comparisons that they are using to make value judgments about various ideas and realities but it is profoundly important. Are you making judgments based on whether something is achieving perfection? whether something is better than last year? or whether something is better than nothing?