[media-credit name=”Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/MCT” align=”aligncenter” width=”650″]
[/media-credit]The Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) voted Sept. 9 to go on their first strike in 25 years. The schools in Chicago were closed from Sept. 10 to Sept. 18. Teachers left their classroom in protest of an evaluation system that was based heavily on test scores.
Forty percent of Chicago teachers’ evaluation score came from standardized tests mandated by the No Child Left Behind laws. The CTU argued that this evaluation system was unfair, asking Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to make changes, because the system didn’t account for other factors that affect student performance such as poverty, poor nutrition and family situations. Chicago is taking steps to improve their evaluation system, but they shouldn’t focus on tests when evaluating; instead, they should be using their students as the heart of the system. Students are always with their teachers and they know how they teach. Students need to be the main evaluators of teachers as opposed to the reviews of test scores and administrators.
The system of evaluation in Chicago is almost the polar opposite from the way East evaluates their teachers. According to Dr. Karl Krawitz, administrators at East don’t look at tests at all when evaluating; they look mainly at what goes on in the classroom, what kind of questions the teacher asks their students and their course plan for the year. But, still, they are lacking in the same areas as the Chicago system: no voice from the students.
The evaluation system at East bases most of its review of teachers on the categories of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom’s taxonomy, created in 1956 by an educator’s committee headed by psychologist Benjamin Bloom, is a way of evaluating how teachers teach and what questions they ask their students. It was made to help educators communicate what they needed to do to help their students learn.
The categories of Bloom’s taxonomy start at the lowest level: knowledge. If their students could memorize and regurgitate facts, the teacher would meet the requirements for this level. The categories go through four more levels, getting more difficult as they go, and ending on evaluation, the highest level on the chart. In this category students would be asked to pick the best answer or find the most suitable way to solve a problem. When an administrator sits in on a class, this is one thing they are looking at. Can a teacher get their students involved in the questions and get them to the point where they can apply and improve the problems posed in class?
The teacher evaluation process starts at the beginning of the year. Teachers and administrators meet to agree on what they would like to improve on and what needs to be improved as individuals and as a whole. They pick two goals that they would like to work on during the year, whether it be better communication with students, keeping the class more organized, etc. Evaluators focus on these goals while reviewing the teachers’ plans for the year.
One thing missing from our evaluation system is the voice of the student body. Students should be part of the evaluation process to ensure that there is an unbiased review process as the students are with their teachers almost every day. Every teacher should be required to receive evaluation from their students; the most effective and fastest way to do this would be through a simple sheet of paper. It should ask specific questions as to how well each teacher taught their subject and what they could improve on.
Students should be the main evaluators of teachers or the administrators will get a false perception of what goes on in the classroom. The district needs to rethink its evaluation system to make the students opinion a priority. The review process is vital to our school. In order to have the best teachers, we need a strong evaluation system.