The Plan to Modernise Teaching

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There was an article in the Chicago Tribune earlier this week that reported on the progress of the plans in Florida to finalise their ‘Roadmap for modernizing the teaching profession’.  According to the article Florida has passed legislation that will formalise their plans that will apparently (and I quote) “transform the educational status quo”. The summary of the changes are as follows:

  • Teachers will be rewarded and evaluated on how much their students learn
  • Teachers will work under an annual contract subject to renewal every year
  • Teacher retention is set to change with the last in -first off system abolished and teachers being retained based on their effectiveness as teachers
  • Teacher effectiveness will be measured by standardised testing of students
  • Teachers will be evaluated as highly effective; effective; needs improvement; and unsatisfactory.
  • Teachers who need improvement will receive professional development. Teachers who are rated unsatisfactory for two out of three years will not have their contracts renewed.
  • Teachers who take the toughest jobs, like positions in inner-city schools, will earn a bonus

I found the comments just as interesting as the article itself.  Here are my thoughts.

  1. In my opinion, politicians who feel the need to make changes in a system they don’t understand let alone appreciate, should begin with changing the system not the teachers who are a product of that system.  Forget meddling with the end product go back and look at how they resource teacher training, teacher salaries, opportunities for career development etc.
  2. Like most teachers I have major issues with standardised testing.  It is hard enough finding 2 students in the same class who learn the same, process information the same, are intrinsically motivated by the same things let alone a state or indeed a nation!  Education is not like industry where standardised tests are a great way to separate and grade people for employment.  As teachers we don’t have the luxury of being exclusivists, but rather are inclusive of every child, from every background, of every ability – it just doesn’t work!
  3. I am not against reviews and evaluations – I just think they need to be conducted by people who are objective and in a position to understand the teacher’s circumstances and base their evaluation on the circumstance that the teacher is within.

I could go on…but will give you time to comment.

What are your thoughts?

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