The debate surrounding teacher privacy, transparency and student test scores reemerged recently when a parent in Loudon County, VA, filed a lawsuit against state officials requesting the release of the state’s teacher evaluation data. Jasmine Song and Tim Walker
Just as Teacher Appreciation Week was coming to a close, an interesting article appeared on my Facebook home feed. This article brought me back to reality. What caught my eye was the Yelp reference in the title. I use Yelp for reviews about restaurants and activities. The thought of parents using teacher evaluation scores to create a Yelp-like rating system is frightening. In the article, “Don’t Yelp Us! Debate Over Teacher Evaluation Data Spawns a New Bad Idea,” Jasmine Song and Tim Walker explore the growing controversy over releasing teacher evaluation information to the public.
Teacher Evaluation in the Spotlight
Teacher evaluation and student test scores have been in the news for the last few years. The debate has turned to whether parents should be able to see teachers’ scores. A recent lawsuit was filed against the state of Virginia by a parent requesting that teacher evaluation scores be released to the public. Filing under the Freedom of Information Act, Brian Davidson, felt that parents should have access to this information to “…to determine whether their children’s educators are performing up to par.”(Song and Walker)
The state of Virginia and the Virginia Education Association are currently challenging this lawsuit. Sharing teachers’ evaluation scores “would present at best an incomplete picture of teacher effectiveness, violate privacy and needlessly damage reputations.” (Song and Walker)
At the heart of this debate is the question of accountability and transparency. However, the accountability appears to be expected from one group: the teachers. What is missing is the collaboration and trust between teachers and parents.
Teacher Evaluation Sound-Bite
When you share our evaluation scores, parents would get one snapshot of our practice. There are many factors that go into teacher evaluation scores. Would they use these scores to make their own rating system? If a teacher received a good score from an administrator, would a parent’s bad score override that initial rating?
Parents and teachers need to collaborate. When we collaborate everyone succeeds. We all have a stake in our children and students’ education. When you release teacher evaluation scores you create an adversarial relationship between parents and teachers. Test scores do not tell the complete picture of a student’s educational performance. Teacher evaluation scores do not tell the complete picture of what occurs in a teacher’s classroom.
I liked this article. The authors shared the problems that would exist if scores became public. They also acknowledged the need for more teacher support to promote success in the classroom. We need to become partners in supporting our education system. We do not need parents to share teacher evaluation scores like Yelp reviews.
Article: Don't Yelp Us! Debate Over Teacher Evaluation Data Spawns a New Bad Idea, Jasmine Song and Tim Walker