Putting Education Reform To The Test

Feedback Loop: Debating Whether Principals Are Issuing Snap Judgments

How much observation is enough to evaluate a teacher? Our readers debate the point.

Is 20 minutes enough time to figure out how well a teacher is doing his or her job?

That’s what Miami-Dade teacher Karla Mats asked after she received a 20-minute observation from her principal — the minimum time required by the district.

Mats was disappointed she was not among the highest-rated teachers and she questioned the 20-minute observation.

StateImpact Florida readers questioned the policy as well.

Dirhart said short evaluations predate new statewide laws requiring performance pay:

That is about as much observation in any year as I ever had in 37 years of teaching.Ā  The teacher is correct; it is not enough, but that’s one of many problems with educational administration.Ā  Perhaps the higher stakes will lead to decent administrators, but I am not holding my breath.

Bd28mull argues the new evaluations have problems, but so did the old system where principals often papered over poor teacher reviews:

Many teachers genuinely distrust the system that determines their professional success and their earning potential. But we are hypocrites if we start whining about an evaluation system that has operated the same way for all those previous years,Ā giving too many strugglingĀ teachers the illusion they were very competent when some weren’t. It is the sudden shift to the other extreme that is so disconcerting. By my calculations, a teacher can be rated as Effective which I agree is getting a B. Then have tremendous student annual growth and still be a B. In order to be Highly Effective overall, a teacher will need both tremendous student growth and the Highly Effective from the principal.Ā No one has been able to provideĀ an adequateĀ answer to the question of what happens when a teacher receives a mediocre evaluation and has tremendous student growth indicating the teacher is likely highly effective after all. This evaluation system in Florida is unacceptable to most teachers, unfunded by the politicians, and is likely a device to hold down teacher pay. All of this is wrong and will slowly erode the ranks of teachers as the economy improves.

Urabear makes a smart point (though observations aren’t scheduled): A worthwhile principal is always observing.

A good administrator knows what their teachers are doing in their classrooms and don’t need to see a scheduled “horse & pony show” toĀ determine if you’re doing what you should be doing.

Catherine Shore Martinez offers some advice to Mats (who is a 12-year veteran):

Karla looks like a young, idealistic teacher.Ā  She hasn’t learned the rule about the rock and the egg.Ā  Teachers are the eggs and they always lose if they battle a rock.

Thanks for reading. We’re always interested in what you think of our coverage.

Reader reaction is an important part of building StateImpact Floridaā€™s education coverage. Feedback Loop will be a regular feature highlighting your questions, criticisms and comments.


About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »