Educational Editorial: Teacher evaluations

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Virginia Board of Education has approved new guidelines that can be used for teacher evaluations.

A courageous component in the model is that 40 percent of a teacher's performance rating should be based on the "performance" of students. Multiple measures would be used including standardized and SOL tests.

For years, I have heard the cry that teachers are getting fired because of poor student performance. This is simply not true.

While there has clearly been increased accountability at the school, division, and state levels, teachers are seldom, if ever, dismissed because their students have demonstrated a lack of knowledge or poor skills. Immoral behavior and insubordination have been historical reasons for discharge, but firing a professional for incompetence has been rare.

In some instances teachers have not been told what is expected; therefore, termination for failure to perform is not likely to stand the test of appeal panels, courts, or common sense.

Due process is telling an employee what we expect ahead of time. As ludicrous as it may seem, we rarely said to teachers that students should learn something in order for them to be considered competent.

We have routinely said that teachers should teach and students should learn!  The bottom line is that there has been no teaching until students learn something.

Some would suggest that the teacher's knowledge, skills, and classroom environment should be far less that 60 percent of an evaluation. This is probably true. But as surprising as it may be to most of the world, the Board of Education has moved the issue in the right direction: teachers have not done well until students have!

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