Regular readers here know that I'm a huge fan of Mercedes Schneider, whose attention to detail, relentless research skills, and sharply analytical mind are an inspiration. Also, she once called me the Erma Bombeck of education bloggers, so I kind of love her for that, too.
I read her blog regularly and repeatedly, and while all of it is indispensible, a recent post of hers about Doug Harris and the promotion of VAM contains these pure gold paragraphs about teacher evaluation. I'm copying them out here mostly so that I can find them whenever I want to, but you should read them and take them to heart, to.
Point systems for “grading” the teacher-student (and
school-teacher-student) dynamic will always fall short because the
complex nature of that dynamic defies quantifying. If test-loving
reformers insist upon imposing high-stakes quantification onto schools
and teachers, it will backfire, a system begging to be corrupted by
those fighting to survive it.
It is not that I cannot be evaluated as a teacher. It’s just that
such evaluation is rooted a complex subjectivity that is best understood
by those who are familiar with my reality. This should be true of the
administrators at one’s school, and I am fortunate to state that it is
true in my case.
There are no numbers that sufficiently capture my work with my
students. I know this. Yes, I am caught in a system that wants to impose
a numeric values on my teaching. My “value” to my students cannot be
quantified, nor can my school’s value to my students, no matter what the
Harrises of this world might suggest in commissioned reports.