The Math Forum

Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by NCTM or The Math Forum.

Math Forum » Discussions » Professional Associations » ncsm-members

Notice: We are no longer accepting new posts, but the forums will continue to be readable.

Topic: [ncsm-members] Editorial: More on the scarlet letter frenzy
Replies: 0  

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List  
Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
[ncsm-members] Editorial: More on the scarlet letter frenzy
Posted: Mar 14, 2012 3:36 PM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply
att1.html (5.3 K)

From the Newsletter of The National Council on Teacher Quality,
Wednesday, February 29, 2012. See
Editorial: More on the scarlet letter frenzy

By Sandi Jacobs

As we discussed in our recent
post [ ], we view the
public reporting of individual teachers' evaluation ratings as
unfortunate scarlet letter policies that are ultimately bad for the
profession. In the aftermath of the public release of NYC's
value-added data last week, we decided that the matter was worth

First and foremost, if a teacher consistently isn't cutting it in the
classroom, then school districts should have the legal wherewithal
(not to mention the fortitude) to dismiss that teacher. While it's
true that too many states currently don't make it clear enough that a
teacher can be dismissed for ineffective classroom performance, this
is an issue that should be taken up in states' dismissal policies,
not in the form of parental notification policies that in effect use
shame to passive-aggressively push poor performers out of the

Some states--including Florida and Indiana--are now requiring that
parents receive notice if their children are taught by ineffective
teachers. We know these policies are not based on a desire to
humiliate low-performing teachers but on a belief that the "consumer"
should be informed. However, as is the nature of public school,
parents aren't consumers at the teacher level; they are generally not
able to hand-pick their child's teacher each year. Thus, releasing
poor performers' ratings--or high-performing teachers' ratings, for
that matter--is opening a Pandora's box that is sure to set schools
and districts spinning.

The situation in New York City is especially unfortunate because the
value-added data that have been released were never intended to stand
alone--let alone, be published--as a teacher's rating. Much has been
documented about how flawed the data are--there was insufficient
roster verification, for starters. But even if the data were rock
solid, publishing just one evaluation metric in isolation will always
paint an incomplete picture of teacher performance. These kinds of
actions only reinforce the belief that too many teachers already
have: that the part and parcel purpose of these new evaluation
systems is just to fire a lot of teachers.

But we don't believe that is the purpose of teacher evaluation or the
intention of the new generation of systems coming online. Yes, they
should provide districts and principals with data that should help
them to make informed HR decisions. And it's those actions that
should give parents assurance that their children have effective
teachers. But ultimately, if we see the crux of teacher evaluation as
being a means to help all teachers grow and improve, then the reality
is that some students are going to have to be in those classrooms
while lower-performing teachers are trying to get better. And
teachers need to be able to go to the supermarket without their job
performance being public knowledge while they are trying to grow and

We think Rhode Island is on a better path. The state's districts have
the responsibility of ensuring that no student is placed with an
ineffective teacher two years in a row. Combined with policy that
clearly ties ineffective ratings to dismissal and prevents the
awarding of tenure to teachers with ineffective ratings, this
approach can give parents and the public confidence about the state's
teaching force.
See also:

Teacher quality widely diffused, ratings indicate:

Shame is not the solution:

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© The Math Forum at NCTM 1994-2018. All Rights Reserved.