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Thompson: Gates Urges Caution On Rushing Teacher Evaluation

Warning-for-quick-fixStop 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.


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Gates is laying down a smokescreen. Meantime, his Foundation is in high gear in your state legislature and state Department of Education, forcing the imposition of his own disastrous systems, mandated under his own disastrous Race to the Top. Panoramic coverage of investigative reports is here:

The Gates Foundation's Education Philanthropy: Are Profit Seeking and Market Domination a Public Service?

Yes the teachers need to be evaluated but i agree with Gates, why rush an evaluation you could be missing out on critical information about that teacher and then the students are affected by the teachers lack of knowledge so take your time and evaluate these teachers accordingly no matter how timely it is. The future of our children is depended on what they learn now so stop being lazy and do your job. That's what you get paid for; stop wasting the tax payers dollars.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say Gates wants to engineer a disastrous regime of tyrannical imposition of his values. If anything, he doesn’t seem to quite understand what it is he thinks his own money should be going towards. The man seems to want both a rapid solution, but a good one, which simply isn’t realistic, given all the damage done.

I agree with Gates it does not make good sense to rush to quickly evaluate teachers. Ultimately teachers make a significant difference in the success of the students. It would serve the students and teachers best if the reformers work with the teachers. Teachers need to make sure they meet standards but if its done quickly there may not be adequate information that would help teachers to improve in the future.

Teachers should be evaluated. There are some very good teachers in the school system who don't get paid as much as they should, and then there are some teachers who don't deserve what they get paid. How would the teachers actually be evaluated? Would they just let the students evaluate them? Would the principle come sit in the classroom one day out the school year to evaluate them? Or would they evaluate them by how many students pass their class? Is there a real way to evaluate a teacher?

hey john I agree..a systematic evaluation is very vital.

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