Can and should teachers be evaluated?


Let’s start with the following story: a political manager, with a master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University, was elected by her party to the municipal teaching area of ​​a major world capital, which included responsibility for 168 public schools. Upon taking office, she established a teacher evaluation system, which involved the dismissal of 241 teachers.

In a subsequent evaluation, 5% of the teaching staff were dismissed for various reasons , from the use of physical punishment, to work absences without medical leave. The results of another 737 teachers and administrative staff were very poor, and they were given a year to improve.

As a result of this evaluation system, 21 public schools were closed. In the following municipal elections, the opposition seized power, thanks in part to $1 million in funding from the teaching unions.

This short story is not invented. It happened in the US, between June 12, 2007 and October 29, 2010, a period during which the person responsible for the forceful evaluation described was Councilor for Public Schools in the District of Columbia, Washington.

Resistance to evaluation
Michelle Rhee, who is the political protagonist of the story, woke up every morning angry, but in a constructive way, against an educational system that places the interests of adults above children. A system that places greater value on teacher job stability than on its effectiveness.

Rhee opted for teacher evaluation. The unions did not support it. In the US, as in many other countries, the highest-achieving student body is not in the teaching profession, with only 23% of school teachers coming from the top-achieving third of students in high school and college.

Union resistance is not unique to the US. In some countries, there have even been serious incidents related to teacher evaluation: Mexico , Argentina , Chile

In the Spanish State, teaching unions of different ideological orientations have even presented joint signatures for the withdrawal of a Teacher Evaluation Plan, since they considered that it was “an absurd control that intends that the centers give their teachers grades” .

But, in the case of students, are grades a control tool and not an educational one? Would we want that evaluation for teachers?

Is there teacher evaluation?
In many countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including Spain, we have, for example, the TALIS Report, International Study of Teaching and Learning.

Said report is based on the answers that teachers and directors give to the questionnaires based on their own ideas and impressions, thus expressed literally. The last year of Compulsory Secondary Education, or Baccalaureate, or Vocational Training is not addressed; Andalusia, Castilla-La Mancha, Ceuta or Melilla, for example, do not enter the evaluation.

What does the new law say
The current Organic Law, in its modification of article 95 , only minimally mentions the teaching self-assessment of professional training teachers and the assessment of the teaching function so that it is taken into account preferentially in transfer competitions and in professional development. teacher.

Teacher evaluation is not among the powers of the school council. Nor in those of the management team. In the modification of article 132 of the Organic Law of Education (LOE), letter h , it is indicated that among the competences of directors are promoting the internal evaluations of the center and collaborating in external evaluations and in the evaluation of the teaching staff.

The modification of article 149 of the LOE mentions that the High Educational Inspection corresponds to the State (respecting the original uppercase and lowercase letters), knowing, supervising and observing all the activities that are carried out in the centers, both public and private, to which they will have free access.

“Obvious lack of conditions”
The main novelty of this law could be in line with the beginning of this article, and it is the forty-eighth additional provision , on changing the functions of teaching staff: “Teaching officials who show a manifest lack of conditions to occupy a teaching position or a notorious lack of performance that does not involve inhibition, they may be removed from their job and perform other tasks that do not require direct attention to the students. The removal must be the consequence of a contradictory file that ends with a negative evaluation carried out by the educational inspectorate”.

Evaluate as a positive action
We are aware of the difficulty of dismissing a public employee, and among articles 148 to 157 of the LOE we do not find how to evaluate, consider, value and promote those teachers who work hard every day in their employment to create a better world .

Evaluating can have a repressive function or become an action that encourages teachers committed to comprehensive education, that favors personal freedom, responsibility, solidarity, equality, respect and justice, as well as helping to overcome any type of discrimination, that is, what constitutes the principles of education according to the LOE.

Who evaluates?
Will we bet on binding evaluations, as in the initial American example, or on a model in which the analysis does not go beyond public spending without any subsequent determination?

A global solution would imply the analysis and consideration of all the agents that are linked to education.

Teachers can be evaluated, always taking into account everything related to their training, the education system, the student body, and the whole host of factors that affect a profession that marks the future of people.

Author Bio: Antonio Nadal Masegosa is Doctor in Pedagogy, professor at the Department of Theory and History of Education and Research Methods and Diagnosis in Education at the University of Malaga