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Teacher Evaluation

The Charge and the Challenges


Kate O'Hara

The evaluation of teachers is at the forefront of national discussion, with the divide on the topic growing increasingly deeper. Teachers are under attack, in a war waged from the top down, complete with private entities, standardization, and a limited view of what it means to be «good» or «effective». In both teacher preparation programs and in our public schools, teachers entering the profession and practicing in classrooms face evaluation measures that are biased, unreliable, and reliant upon quantitative outcomes. Teacher Evaluation: The Charge and the Challenges aims to «talk back» to the national rhetoric about teacher evaluation and accountability measures, with a call for all educators, policy makers, activists, scholars, and reformers to engage in critical dialogue and democratic practices.
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Chapter 1. Teacher Evaluation in the Current Era: Implications for Teacher Education Policy and Pedagogy


Democracy cannot flourish where the chief influences in selecting subject matter of instruction are utilitarian ends narrowly conceived for the masses, and, for the higher education of the few, the traditions of a specialized cultivated class. The notion that the “essentials” of elementary education are the three R’s mechanically treated, is based upon ignorance of the essentials needed for realization of democratic ideals. Unconsciously it assumes that these ideals are unrealizable; it assumes that in the future, as in the past, getting a livelihood, “making a living,” must dignify for most men and women doing things which are not significant, freely chosen, and ennobling to those who do them; doing things which serve ends unrecognized by those engaged in them, carried on under the direction of others for the sake of pecuniary reward.

John Dewey, Democracy and Education

As public schools prepare for a myriad of new teacher evaluations, including the standardization and in many ways nationalization of our education system, educators (including those in preservice programs) must consider how the emerging culture of accountability, measurement, and general mistrust of teachers will influence their experiences in the classroom. Furthermore, teacher educators must consider how new forms of assessment will likely be used in the evaluation of teacher education programs. As public K-12 schools ← 3 | 4 → prepare students for the global economy, it appears that the overutilization of teacher evaluation models tied to state examinations is causing some to reconsider why we educate in a democracy and...

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