Holding Teachers to the Same Standards as Their Students

10/07/2017

The IT industry moves at a rapid pace. And this usually brings about a lot of positive results. But it can sometimes make it hard to properly integrate with slower moving fields. One of the best examples of this contrast can be found within the modern elementary or high school.

Most parents know that their kids are using computers at school. The exact nature of these computers in a child’s education might vary by grade and school. But it’s usually analogous to how parents remember their own youth. The methods by which teachers present material has changed over time. And the lesson’s medium sometimes changes from books to text files and film reel to video file. But most parents will still see a modern reflection of old classroom material in their own child’s life. This represents an evolution in educational material rather than a revolutionary new approach.

That’s not to say that computers aren’t dramatically changing some parts of the educational experience though. It’s simply that the areas where change happens most frequently isn’t in a child’s computer. How a child learns and has that learning tested is usually standardized and slow to change. Instead, the most rapid evolution in academic testing is applied to the child’s teacher.

Schools have tested educator effectiveness in different ways over time. But until recently there just haven’t been very objective ways to measure a teacher’s performance. One particularly difficult area involves separating a child’s performance from that of his teacher. It’s not easy to sort out how much of a child’s grades are due to his own talents, that of the teacher or a combination of both. Intuition and guesswork have had to substitute for solid analysis and methodology. But the previously mentioned technological advances provide a way to get around that problem.

A combination of solid methodology on the software side and easily portable hardware can make teacher evaluation straightforward. There’s quite a bit of variation within this type of educational software. But evaluation software usually focusses on classroom walkthroughs.

School administrators typically sit in on one or more classes for every teacher. This part of the process remains unchanged from the time that most of the parents were in school. The big difference comes from a laptop or mobile app that the administrator will carry with him through each session. Any type of classroom walkthrough software guides the administrator through the evaluation process.

It’s important to note that this usually involves real-time dynamic computation on some level. A casual observer might not see much difference from decades old checklists on a piece of paper. The administrator might still check items off a list on his laptop or mobile device. But what makes the process effective is what’s going on in the background. As data is recorded it’s also being weighed and evaluated. The system can then offer up new suggestions or use predefined algorithms to work with the newly generated data. The results of that work might then be fed right back into the currently running evaluation.

The result is an evaluation that’s more objective. It focuses in on areas where one would normally use guesswork. And it results in a solid evaluation of a teacher that matches up quite well to how we test children on their lessons. The exact nature of this evaluation will differ by exact software package. But they all share a common goal of raising the bar for teacher evaluation.