in person evals, that only lead to consequences with then further evaluation if it is deemed necessary?
I don't begin to know the answer to this question, and I'm not looking to tick anyone off.
I know that I hate teaching to the test, and do not approve of what either Bush or Obama has done in an attempt to "raise standards."
I'm from New York City, where this is such a hotly debated issue and has been for as long as I've been alive.
From what I can tell in New York City, there is a problem of some of the teachers failing to reach basic competency levels. We have some truly terrible teachers sprinkled throughout the system from what I can tell (this is second hand, but in this case, second hand by having worked outside of the classroom with students attending New York's public schools).
I saw a great documentary when I was down in Tuscaloosa four years ago that focused on successful reforms - their focus was on improving teacher motivation, identifying teachers with a passion for teaching, for actually being there, and phasing out teachers who just didn't want to be in that classroom anymore (or never did).
I think if you get to a basic level of competency, it's not crazy to think that teacher motivation can be the most important determining factor once that hurdle has been cleared. Motivated teachers motivate students, create classrooms that are not drawn out exercises in mental torture, respond to the brightest students, who need to be encouraged to go forward, forward, forward, and even pick up some of the stragglers, who I think respond differently to a teacher that is engaged as opposed to a teacher who has as little interest in being there as they do. I may get some hostile responses claiming there are no teachers like this - but I truly believe that there are teachers like that grinding learning to a halt in classrooms across the country.
Call me crazy, but if you get a teacher who displays both basic competency in subject mastery along with basic competency in classroom communication, and also displays motivation to do the actual job - fuck any test, fuck teaching to some ridiculous set of inflexible guidelines, none of that matters. I damn well believe that actual learning will happen in those classrooms. Positive learning. Teaching that makes kids view the school as something other than the enemy. And I think that teachers will feel freed to do their actual jobs which, again, radical idea, I say involves: teaching above a basic competency level and then actively making an effort to inspire young minds. If every teacher met that goal, I think our education system would be damn well fixed. Oh, and invest in school supplies for the kids and enough textbooks or computer access for the students. Do whatever you can to improve physical plant infrastructure.
If you have to have metal detectors at a school, btw, my instinct is to say, so what. I don't think metal detectors alone make a school into a jail. I believe what happens past those metal detectors is what makes some schools seem like jails.
I may just be talking out of my ass, but these are my thoughts.