Labeling “Ineffective Teachers” in Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

Dan Gecker, President, VBOE – picture credit: VBOE

My last post about new legislative attempts at reforming public education led to a very appropriate discussion of the term “ineffective teacher” used in that legislation.

Bestowing the “ineffective teacher” tag with some patina of objectivity requires a major effort that does not exist in Virginia.

The studies that showed the Virginia Board of Education how it might combine subjective (principal evaluations) and objective (tracking individual students through their education to see which teachers advanced their learning and which retarded it) measures to which it referred in using the “ineffective teacher” terminology requires data that are not available in Virginia.

If we go down this road, years of collection and assessment will be required before data-supported evaluations meet the test of statistical significance and then are subjective to political tests.

We will have to start an entirely new (doable at the costs of considerable expense and time) data collection and mining effort in Virginia to give such tags a tinge of objectivity.

The truth on the ground is that principals make such assessments now every day, but Virginia doesn’t have an official, policy-sponsored labeling process.

If we try to go forward with public policy that relies upon the exclusivity of subjective principal evaluations, the new respect we plan to give teachers unions will wipe that out at the first contract negotiation.

This is a great example of the danger of moving what generally but not always work in the real world into the realm of public policy that then brings in to play endless political considerations.

Does anyone think that both objective and subjective measures would not be then subject to protected class oversight?

Perfect is in this case the enemy of good enough when perfect is not possible.

I personally think the light is not worth the candle.

Dump the term and let this dog sleep.