Isobel Stevenson

Thinking about Teaching and Learning

We have been here before

April 3, 2011 by Isobel Stevenson · No Comments · Student Achievement

I have been doing a LOT of research on teacher selection, supervision, and evaluation, and I have learned a lot.  I wish I had more time to write about what I’ve learned on this blog, but alas…

I already knew that Reagan attempted in the early 1980s a clampdown on teachers’ unions much as is going on right now–with little impact, obviously, otherwise we wouldn’t be living through it again now.  And today I’ve been reading studies that were done around the same time, and since, with regard to the selection, supervision, and evaluation of teachers.  And it is remarkable how little has changed.

For example, the finding that principals are not generally held accountable for evaluating teachers, nor do principals tend to work with teachers who are in difficulty.  And that principals typically spend between 2.5% -10% of their time in classrooms.  And that principals are typically not well prepared to supervise teachers.

Just now, I read a report that made me laugh.  The summary starts:

The new concern for the quality of education and of teachers is being translated into merit-pay, career ladder, and master teacher policies that presuppose the existence of effective teacher evaluation systems.

It is funny because it was written in 1984, but it could have been published in this morning’s New York Times.  What is wrong with us, do you think, that one generation doesn’t seem to learn much from the last?  We are currently going through an upheaval in education that we went through 25 years ago to no avail, and I can’t find much indication that we are paying much attention to what happened then.  Who said that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it?

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