A Few Problems About Judging Teachers

When the governor proposed linking teacher evaluations to student performance tests,  he left a lot of details unfinished.  Education Commissioner Mike Hanley says that forty other states had such requirements in place when Alaska’s administrators put the rules on paper.

When it formally  changed the regulations concerning evaluations, the Board of Education didn’t deal with the details that the entire education system will have to work with.

There are problems with a set of regulations saying that, eventually,  student scores on standard tests will make up fifty percent of teacher evaluations. 

Some of those issues came out before the Senate Education Committee this morning, and they’re pretty clear:

1 – There are a lot of factors outside the teacher’s control.  Home, parents, poverty, lack of school resources are at the top.  The regulations don’t consider the impact of basic areas of education – language and math – on those who teach subjects like history.

2 – Where similar systems are already in place,  school officials have found them to be expensive, time-consuming, complicated, and inconclusive.  Carl Rose, the executive director of the Association of School Boards, agreed with the need for increasing standards.  However he said the policy needs to address things that school boards can actually implement.

3 – Basing half of the evaluation on student testing reduces the importance of everything else in a student’s life that is a part of education and growth.

4 – If the evaluation becomes an employment issue for teachers, local school districts will have to start defending it in court.

5 – Rural schools can expect to see more problems hiring and retaining teachers.  The concern here is that since teachers’ personal grades will be shared across district boundaries,  teachers will prefer to work in richer environments with more resources.

6 – There is a risk that – because of all the above issues — the people who score the evaluations will be tempted to inflate the numbers, making the whole exercise meaningless.


There’s no commitment from the administration to reopen any of the details – and no promise from the Senate at this time to hold any further hearing on the subject.   No bills are on the table dealing with the new regulations.


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