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It’s not so easy to evaluate Nevada school teachers

If all Nevada’s teachers are effective, why does Nevada routinely find its education system ranked at the bottom nationally? Let me explain.

You can have the most effective teacher in the world in a biology classroom designed for 25 with 40 students in it and there is no way you can conduct a lab. You can have a stellar English teacher with seven periods of 30 kids per class who could not possibly grade 210 essays a week.

You can have a tremendous third grade teacher with 30 students in the room, one-quarter of whom have individual educational plans for the learning disabled and it is impossible to get the other three-quarters through grade level material. You can have an award-winning high school chemistry teacher with $200 for supplies for the entire year. You can have a truly exceptional fifth grade math teacher and half his class can’t add.

If I had been in the fifth grade unable to add, my parents would have routinely drilled me on addition, subtraction and multiplication. Today, the parents blame the teachers. And the system sets up these kids to fail because we pass them. The underlying message they receive is, “Don’t bother trying. We know you can’t do it, that is why we promoted you to the next grade level.” Later, when they realize that due to “minimum grade” policies they cannot be awarded a grade less than 50 percent even if they fail to turn in an assignment, the students just become lazy.

I am sure the data exists. Go see if states where schools are in the top half of the educational ranks have classroom overcrowding, tiny budgets for supplies, grade promotion based on funding not student attainment, and minimum grades of 50 percent for doing nothing. Then you can see why our effective teachers work in failing schools.

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