The value-added approach to teacher evaluation. What makes a good teacher – student test results or teacher popularity?

What makes a good teacher? In this article in the LA Times there is discussion of the so-called value-added approach to teacher evaluation, which amounts to measuring the quality of teachers by their students test results. A variety of educators present their views on this approach in this article.

The education debate in the US is unending. Every president wants to make a breakthrough in education. Obama is no exception. The cost of educating a child has increased over 300% since the 1960s, after inflation, yet educational outcomes remain flat or in some cases have declined. In a related statistic the incarceration rate in the US has grown 700 % in the same period, and a high percentage of prison inmates have low literacy.

It is generally recognized that teachers have a major impact on student success. They should have, since they are the major expense in education. How do we decide who is a good teacher?

In my view, the greatest value added the teacher can provide is his enthusiasm for the subject and his ability to make the students like the subject. Usually this means making the students like the teacher. I cannot remember a teacher that I did not like, who was effective, nor can I remember a teacher that I liked and respected that was not a good teacher. Is teacher popularity the best measure of teacher effectiveness? I kind of think so.

The teaching industry insists on their own credentials and training. Personally, I doubt if teacher training or  credentials have much to do with teacher popularity or effectiveness. I also doubt that the schools would agree to promote effective teachers and remove ineffective teachers, so the debate is somewhat academic.


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