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The blogger Plunderbund (aka Greg Mild) here describes the chaotic, pointless, and ceaseless bureaucratic and political meddling in Ohio’s public schools.
Just as the schools began to implement the previous teacher evaluation plan, the legislature decided to “reform” the process yet again:
The full text of Ohio’s latest proposed budget bill (House Bill 64) was posted last week and, as in years past, it includes much more than just financial recommendations. There are numerous education-related “reforms”, some of which have promise, others that will place additional expenses on the backs of local school districts, and some that will continue to just continue the chaotic environment of change that teachers and administrators have been dealing with under the Kasich regime.
statehouseA key piece of reform that falls into the latter category involves the ever-changing Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES). In only its third year of implementation in most schools across the state, it appears as though we can look forward to major modifications to the system even as educators are still adjusting to the massive changes that occurred last summer.
The process of implementing the OTES has already been a burden on schools and districts as they have been forced to create entirely new systems of tracking and reporting, all while continually trying to keep both teachers and principals abreast of the latest options and requirements. Last years changes were particularly troublesome as the law did not become official until mid-September, after the school year had already started, requiring most local school boards to delay the official adoption of all of the modifications while trying to get the process started in a timely fashion and educating all personnel about the overhaul that had occurred while they were out on summer break.
The new system will be horrendous, as those who teach non-tested subjects will be evaluated by “attributed” scores. That means that teachers of the arts, physical education, K-2, high school, foreign languages, etc., will be evaluated by the scores of their entire school, the scores of students they didn’t teach, the scores of students they never met.
In practice, shared attribution is essentially taking the value-added ratings of an entire school or district and assigning those ratings to teachers in the non-value-added grades and subjects. The result in Ohio over the past two years is that we have had teachers receive individual evaluation ratings based on students that they have absolutely no direct connection with. For example:
High school teachers of all subjects receiving a student growth measure rating based on the math and reading test results of children in grades 4-8.
Physical education, music, and visual art teachers at all grades receiving ratings based on the test results in subjects they don’t instruct.
Newly-hired teachers in grades PK-3 with an evaluation rating based in the test scores of students in grades 4-5 that they have never even taught.
There are numerous other combinations like these few examples in which teachers have had their evaluations based on students that are not even in the same building (any teacher receiving a district’s value-added rating as shared attribution).
In the comments on the Plunderbund blog, someone asks: “What difference will it make?” Well, let me count the ways: teacher demoralization (a commenter on this blog wrote to ask why he was getting a degree in music education with a specialty in string, when he would be judged by the math and reading scores of 4th and 8th grade students); confusion in the schools about yet another implementation of a policy that has no basis in research or experience; a waste of millions of dollars for compliance that might have otherwise been spent on reducing class sizes, buying musical instruments or upgrading buildings.
As Plunderbund says: Now let the chaos begin….