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Suggest improvements in our education system?

Education is not a finite process. It is not initiated at the morning bell and terminated at dismissal. It does not begin after Labor Day and end in June. And it most definitely does not start on the first day of Kindergarten and end on graduation day. Perhaps most importantly, it does not begin in 3rd grade (or whenever your state begins state assessments) and it should not end after testing is completed in March.

Unfortunately, our current education system focuses on a goal being achieved, a test being passed and getting the "right" answer.

First, there is qualitative evidence that teachers must be evaluated based on professional teaching standards, multi-faceted evidence of teacher practice, student learning, professional contributions and teacher collaboration. A successful approaches to teacher evaluation and concluded that there are seven criteria for an effective teacher evaluation system.

  • Teacher evaluations should be based on professional teaching standards.
  • Evaluations should include multi-faced evidence of teacher practice, student learning and professional contributions.
  • Evaluators should be knowledgeable about instruction and well trained in the evaluation system.
  • Evaluations should be accompanied by useful feedback and connected to professional development opportunities.
  • The evaluation system should value and encourage teacher collaboration,
  • Expert teachers should be part of the assistance and review process.
  • Panels of teachers and administrators should oversee the evaluation process to guarantee useful and high quality information.

Second, we know that the inclusion of student performance acts in favor of the students, but results in a partially unfair allocation of teacher recognition.

Third, we know that teacher evaluation is a tool that depends on complementary inputs. In order for teachers to be able to improve their practice, they must use the information derived from evaluation to identify needs specific to their groups, develop strategies and take action.

For this to happen teachers must have time to analyze the data and count on the necessary support to bring their strategies to an improved instruction practice. The improvement of the quality of education supply is a process that required continuous knowledge.

Learning must be relevant. If we learn skills because we NEED them to do something that matters to us, then we remember them. For example, students working on measuring and calculating the area of a plot of land in which they will be growing a garden to provide vegetables for class snacks are going to care about the formula for calculating area. In fact, they will probably be able to derive the formula. Textbooks, while an "easy fix" are very ineffective, especially if the textbook is the primary (or exclusive) source of information and work provided to the students.

Concluding, teacher evaluation is a tool to improve the quality of education that depends on complementary inputs and should ideally consider professional teaching standards, multi-faceted evidence of teacher practice, student learning, professional contributions and teacher collaboration. Just in case you wonder, what you think about your teacher probably does not matter. It is likely you think your best teachers are those that gave you best grades.

- Dr B.R Prasad