Con: Rating wouldn't reflect classroom reality

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Nov. 24, 2013 at 5:24 a.m.
Updated Nov. 25, 2013 at 5:25 a.m.

Tying student test scores to teacher evaluations would not be fair to teachers, especially to those whose subjects are not tested by the state exams.

In the morning, Kecia Garcia, an art teacher at Torres Elementary School, teaches students the basics of the art world.

And in the afternoon, Garcia helps students with their reading skills as part of an intervention program.

While Garcia does have a hand in helping students understand their core subjects, the art teacher said it is not fair to include standardized test scores as part of her evaluation.

"They would have to create a different evaluation system to fit the art room," Garcia, 47, said. "But even then, that could affect the way things are taught."

Garcia said she fears the curriculum would become more academic and less hands-on.

"That would be terrible," Garcia said.

Her classes are ones students looked forward to during the day, Garcia said.

"It's so much more casual for some reason," Garcia said. "What's great about my position is that I get to interact with the students in a more relaxed setting."

Victoria school district debate coach Rock Westfahl echoed some of Garcia's concerns when it comes to tying student performance to teacher evaluations.

Even under a value-added measurement, which looks at student growth instead of achievement, Westfahl said, there are shortcomings.

"Kids are dynamic and aren't the same every year," Westfahl, 57, said. "If you have a system that assumes that everyone starts at the same place, it's not going to be accurate."

Torres Elementary School parent Alisa Jones, 33, of Victoria, said she doesn't think the connection would be fair because of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness.

Jones said she doesn't believe the district's curriculum and the state test are properly aligned.

"The kids are taking a test they shouldn't be taking anyway," Jones said. "Why should teachers be held accountable for something they shouldn't be taking?"

Dwight Harris, American Federation of Teachers Victoria chapter president, said teacher evaluations don't have to be so complicated.

"It's not difficult to figure out if a teacher knows how to teach," Harris, 64, said. "Just walk into a classroom a few times, and if they're engaged, you can tell."

But even when you find a good teacher who can teach, that doesn't mean those students are going to become effective learners, said Harris, a retired teacher with 22 years of classroom experience.

"I never got questioned about a student's effort in class," Harris said. "During parent meetings, I would turn and say, 'Let's ask your child how much effort they put into this?'... If a student isn't putting forth the effort, then we aren't going to be able to make much of a difference."

Pro: Teachers should take responsibility for student success



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