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Letters: The best evaluators aren't tests

December 04, 2012
  • Kyle Hunsberger, an L.A. Unified math teacher, volunteered to participate in the district's Academic Growth Over Time program.
Kyle Hunsberger, an L.A. Unified math teacher, volunteered to participate… (Los Angeles Times )

Re "Student scores may be used in ratings," Dec. 1

I am a ninth-grade English teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Our annual standardized test features phrases such as "cool frisson of contempt," and a little girl who enters a dress in a county fair who uses words like "rickrack" and "bodice." This is relevant assessment? My kids aren't from 19th century Kansas.

What's missing in evaluation is the input of teachers and students. Why isn't teacher effectiveness decided by colleague and student panels that could regularly observe classrooms? No one knows a good teacher from a bad one better than teachers and students.

We teachers are easy to blame. But if anyone outside our chain-link fences can truly divine how effective we are on the inside, it won't be with a No. 2 pencil.

Richard Mandl

Canoga Park

Here is a simple solution for adding more objectivity when using student test scores in evaluating teacher performance: track attendance. Even the best teachers cannot teach an empty desk. Data would likely find a relationship between student absences and test scores. The higher the absences, the lower the test scores.

Then, when blame is placed for dismal performance, a more balanced share will be placed on the students and parents.

Jill Chapin

Santa Monica

As a former teacher, it seems to me that rating the parents should be included in a teacher's evaluation. Our job as parents is to teach our children how to study, be good citizens and to think critically rather than watch TV or play video games.

In the classes I teach as a marriage, family and child therapist, the parents ask for suggestions on how to teach their children boundaries, respect and good listening skills, in addition to having them do chores and homework. It's a tough job to be a parent, but we can't blame teachers if crucial skills aren't being taught at home.

Vicki Scrimger

Rancho Palos Verdes

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