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Follow-Up: Holding Ourselves to a Higher Standard

Renee Moore

My colleagues here around the table have raised some important and intriguing issues about teacher evaluation.

Like Ryan K., I sense (and hope) that teacher evaluations ten years from now will look very different from the haphazard, ineffective methods in use in most American schools today. His vision is echoed in Jessica Hahn's portrayal of the power of collaboration among teachers even today and the importance of extending that collaboration throughout the district and into the community.

I'm thrilled that Jessica K. brought to the table the role students could play in teacher evaluation. I strongly second that view. Some of the best teaching advice I've ever gotten—and some of the most needed criticisms—came from students.

Michael is absolutely spot-on with his warning about the danger of ignoring context in teacher evaluation. In fact, we have known for some time that teaching and learning are highly contextual, even in virtual settings. This is just one aspect of the rich complexity of teaching, as Ryan N. explores. Teaching is the consummate profession, and those who practice it deserve an equally robust evaluation system.

That's why enlightening work such as the "Student Learning, Student Achievement" report that Patrick discusses deserves greater attention. Using standardized test scores as a primary indicator of whether students or their teachers are successful, like the sloppy walk-through observations of some administrators, makes a mockery of real professional evaluation and is a gross disservice to the students we serve.

As a group, I believe this roundtable is representative of the desire of the majority of teaching professionals to have truly effective, accurate, and helpful teaching evaluation.

And that type of evaluation system can only come when teachers ourselves demand it, design it, and implement it as part of a much more profound shift within the teaching profession itself.

Renee Moore has taught English and journalism for 20 years in the Mississippi Delta region at both high school and community college levels.

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