Rick Hess can’t help criticizing teachers.
First let me say I don’t understand why Education Week gives this anti-teacher, privatization lover a forum.
Rick Hess wrote about the failure of the new teacher evaluation bills but he didn’t think they failed because they were universally bad bills, he thought they failed because they didn’t ferret out enough bad teachers.
From Ed Week: In Florida, reformers responded in part by passing the controversial Senate Bill 736. Of SB736, Governor Rick Scott enthused, when signing the bill, "Exceptional teachers will now be distinguished, celebrated and rewarded for their dedication and skill."
The bill mandated that all teachers be evaluated based upon a set of formal observations and student gains on achievement tests (requiring a slew of new tests to gauge learning in every subject and grade). But after all of the effort and political capital expended to enact the program, tens of thousands of hours spent observing and documenting teachers, and tens of millions of dollars spent developing the requisite tests (some of which are still being hotly debated and so have yet to be implemented), the preliminary results announced in Januaryshowed that 97% of teachers were rated effective or better. In Tennessee, another state regarded as an exemplar of teacher-evaluation reform, 98% of teachers were rated at or above expectations. In Michigan, the figure was 98%. These results meant that all the effort and expense invested in these teacher-evaluation reforms have thus far achieved next to nothing.
The reason is straightforward enough. Legislators can change evaluation policies but cannot force principals to apply them rigorously. And it turns out that, even after policies were changed, principals still were not sure what poor teaching looked like, still did not want to upset their staffs, and still did not think giving a negative evaluation was worth the ensuing tension and hassle -- especially given contractual complications and doubts that superintendents would back up personnel actions against low-rated teachers.
Instead or realizing the vast amount of teachers are dedicated, professional, and knowledgeable he believes there is a conspiracy to protect bad teachers.