Thanks to Alexander Russo, I learned about this recent radio interview (if you’re reading this on an RSS Readers, I think you’ll have to click through to see the embedded audio player) with Ron Ferguson and Thomas Kane from the The Gates’ funded Measures Of Effective Teaching project (see The Best Posts On The Gates’ Funded Measures Of Effective Teaching Report).
As regular readers know, there are probably few teachers out there who have been as outspoken as I have been in advocating the use of student surveys (see The Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers)).
And I have been equally strong in my criticism of the Gates’ effort to use them in formal teacher evaluations (you can see links to a number of critiques in that same “The Best…” list). Nothing I’ve written or, probably, anyone else has written, has put the case against their use in this way more eloquently than Felix Salmon at Forbes (see What education reformers did with student surveys).
In this interview, Kane and Ferguson appear to be living in a bubble immune from any of these legitimate concerns. To me, at least, it’s truly scary and make me even more worried about what the final results of the MET project are going to say. They appear to have little sense of how their research might practically play-out in schools across the country.
It reminds me of the dialogue I had with education researchers in my critique of a recent “loss aversion” study where some seemed to suggest that researchers should not have to necessarily be responsible for the how their research might be applied in the world.
If you can, take a few minutes to listen to the interview and let me know what you think.
Perhaps I’m over-reacting….
Los Angeles Unified is moving in this direction, and has incorporated student (and parent) surveys into the new evaluation system along with its own VAM variant. I was close enough to the pilot last year to know that LAUSD is absolutely shooting in the dark.
Use the word “grading teachers” and any hope of using student surveys as feedback mechanisms is lost, as Salmon points out. This relentless pursuit of a way to “grade teachers” is only going to kill the profession, then again, I would say that might be the hope. The truth is, we all know who those poor teachers are, so there’s no need to have some kind of grading system to tell us who they are. All that is needed is courageous school leadership.
This is already creeping in. My brother in law retired early after nearly 40 years when it was going to be introduced at his primary. In the UK FE sector its in use leaving staff constantly on edge. Climate of fear aimed at older expensive teachers. Will only spread as the head of UK Govt inspectors Ofsted said if moral wasn’t low in the staff room then changes not working.