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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 10. How do We Relate to Teachers as Revolutionaries in a System that Evaluates Them?


The world of knowledge takes a crazy turn when teachers themselves are taught to learn.

—Bertolt Brecht, German playwright and poet

…it depicts a sort of war, with a clear definition of sides being drawn; teachers AKA “revolutionaries” against an evaluation system. It could be all the negativity surrounding the new evaluation system, but that was the first image that came to mind, although I like the idea of being considered revolutionary.

—Tiffanie, New York City high school teacher

As a former elementary and middle school teacher, I have a great deal of respect and empathy for teachers. Teacher evaluation, performance merit pay, measurement of student achievement, and Common Core State Standards are topics in the popular media that are often framed in terms that depict teachers and school authorities in opposition over the merits of these initiatives in school reform. As an assistant professor in a graduate school of education at a private college in New York City, I work with teachers in professional development workshops, service learning projects in public schools, and in the graduate courses that I teach. My experiences with New York City teachers in these different settings leave me concerned about their morale and dispositions toward their work. I would summarize my thoughts on how New ← 185 | 186 → York City teachers are doing as follows: Teachers are stressed about learning a new curriculum that is aligned to the Common Core State Standards, while simultaneously preparing to be...

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