Teacher Evaluation: What do parents really think?

How should we evaluate teachers?

This is a big question that has been all over the news lately. This article, from the New York Times, discusses parent reactions to the release of teacher performance rankings. As a parent and as a teacher (albeit one who is currently in graduate school, not teaching this year), I have mixed feelings on the matter, as do the parents discussed in the article linked above.

Do I think there needs to be an improved way to evaluate quality teaching? Absolutely. 

Do I think the recent teacher evaluation programs fill that void? No way.

For me, it comes down to what we define as “high quality teaching”. I want my children to be in a classroom where they are engaged, where they are learning in a way that will facilitate the retention of new knowledge over time, not simply long enough to regurgitate it on a test. I want them to feel safe in their school environment and to grow as people. I want them to gain confidence in social interactions and learn to assert their thoughts and opinions in an articulate way so they will be prepared to be citizens of a democratic society.

However, I have no idea how this can be fairly and easily evaluated. I am interested to see what other parents think about teacher evaluation and how it can be accomplished. Do parents really care about test scores first and foremost? Can an eighth grade teacher be fairly evaluated on the test score of a student who has had seven years of other teachers, for better or worse?

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