Thompson: Gates Urges Caution On Rushing Teacher Evaluation
Stop the Presses!!! Bill Gates's address to the Education Commission of the States (found here ) contains a thoughtful repudiation of the fundamental flaw of the contemporary "reform" movement, which is that children do not get a second chance at an education so hurried, dramatic innovations are necessary.
But Gates now counsels, "A new teacher evaluation system is not automatically a good thing. If states and school districts feel pressured to rush out new systems, those systems could evaluate teachers unfairly and fail to help teachers improve." He then warns, "If someone wants to rush an evaluation system into place – and they think they can speed it through by doing it without the teachers – that is a grave mistake." Gates wants to avoid a "disaster" where, " flawed execution of a good idea could convince people it is a bad idea – and that could kill this push for reform." Violating a principle that also has been ignored by many "reformers," Gates affirms, "None of us who work outside the classroom can do anything for students unless we do it with teachers. That’s why working with teachers is rule number one." Working together to improve teacher quality, says Gates, is "a delicate job," and that is why he wants to "warn against the shortcuts that could lead to failure."
Other "reformers" should listen quickly. The rush to reform has violated an equally fundamental principle of teaching and learning, that "quick fixes" quickly need to be fixed. And nowhere has the impatience of "reformers" been more reckless than in their sprint to impose not-ready-for-prime-time value-added evaluations. Across the nation, more risky (and even nonsensical) value-added experiments will begin within a couple of months.- JT(@drjohnthompson) image via.