LETTERS: Teacher evaluation system inadequate

To the editor:

I taught high school mathematics in California for 15 years before moving to Las Vegas and accepting a job with the Clark County School District. What I observed and experienced last year was so appalling, it would fill a book, but I’d like to limit my comments to the article about teacher evaluations (“Nevada teacher evaluation lacking specifics as implementation nears,” Wednesday Review-Journal).

Nevada will be instituting a new teacher evaluation system in which 50 percent will be based on an administrator’s observations, and the other 50 percent will be based on the student’s standardized test scores. It is unbelievable that the state would institute a policy with absolutely no idea how it will be fairly and consistently implemented across all grades, subjects, schools and districts. What about teachers who teach grades and/or subjects that are not tested? Teachers will be rated according to the entire school’s scores, meaning an art teacher could conceivably be held accountable for the math score of a student who has never been in the art teacher’s classroom. The idiotic philosophy (prompting a possible lawsuit from the teachers’ union) is that “it takes a village.” This would be more aptly titled, “It takes a witch hunt.”

Has anyone stopped to consider the consequence of such an evaluation system? Teachers, both good and bad, will naturally be drawn to higher-performing schools. Since teachers can apply for an intradistrict transfer at the end of their first year, they will naturally migrate to an environment that offers better evaluations and better job security. Who does that leave for the poor performing schools, which need the best and most experienced teachers?

As for the administrator’s observations, based on the evaluation checklist used at Western High School last year, this is almost as meaningless as the test score component. The majority of the evaluation is based on what’s posted on the classroom walls. Are grades current and posted? Is there a “word wall”? Is student work posted? Are the objectives for each course written in excruciating detail on the whiteboard every day?

So basically, a trained gorilla would have received a “highly qualified” teacher rating as long as the bulletin board was up to par and the math students next door got high enough standardized test scores.

Teachers should be evaluated and held accountable for the quality of their instruction. But just because something is new does not make it better. Everyone needs to go back to the drawing board on this one, and the drawing board should include student and parent accountability as well.



Maximum sarcasm

To the editor:

Marlene Drozd’s letter to the editor concerning the minimum wage was very enlightening (“Minimum wage hike hurts job seekers,” Tuesday Review-Journal). I didn’t realize that minimum wage jobs were only for entry into the workforce. This must explain why Wal-Mart employs so many college graduates as cashiers and greeters. It gives the college graduates much needed experience and skills to go on to becoming businessmen and managers.

With the training and experience that a minimum wage job gives, it is a wonder that companies don’t charge the employee for the privilege of learning from the best.

So, the next time you go to a local Wal-Mart, be sure to ask the cashiers and greeters how their training is going. Tell them that they may not be making much money now, but Ms. Drozd says that with the skills and experience they are gaining, they will soon be getting lots of promotions and pay raises. Who knows, someday they might even be able to feed their families.



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