Tag Archives: teacher evaluation

Teacher evaluation at the heart of protests over Mexico education reforms

Omar Torres/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Omar Torres/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As reported in The New York Times yesterday, teachers took to the streets of Mexico City to protest the country’s education overhaul program.   The teachers occupied public spaces, blocked access to hotels and the airport, and warned of greater mobilization in coming days. They are protesting the fact that the coming education reforms promise to weed out underperforming teachers, raise hiring standards, and weaken the union. Prior demonstrations have already succeeded in pushing lawmakers to forego an evaluation requirement aimed at halting the practice of buying and selling teaching jobs. According to the article, “Teachers buy, sell or inherit positions as though they were family heirlooms. Removing poorly performing teachers is virtually impossible, even over allegations of sexual or substance abuse.”  The new law would make teacher evaluations obligatory every four years.

see prior IEN reports:

Mexico Approves Massive Education Reform

Reforms in India and Mexico in the Journal of Educational Change

Scan of Ed News: Protests, Unions, and Educational Funding

Scan of Ed News: University Rankings, Curriculum, and Teacher Training

(links are embedded as hyperlinks)International-Travel-Agency-262545-262545-1so

Beyond the issues of protests, unions, and funding, which were highlighted in the first part of this monthly scan, part II brings together links to a number of recent articles and reports that touch on the kinds of issues raised by the latest Academic Reputation Survey.

Academic Reputation Survey

Each year, Times Higher Education and Thomson Reuters sends an email to thousands of academics worldwide inviting them to participate in the annual Academic Reputation Survey, which aims to gain insight on the reputations of academic institutions within the academic community. While this method of ranking has been controversial, education news reports show that many countries take these rankings very seriously, making improvements to their education systems that they hope will elevate their national reputation on a global scale.

In their effort to produce the most college-ready students in the world, many countries are focused inward on issues such as language and curriculum, teacher training and evaluation, and school accountability, while also paying close attention to competitive outward measures.

Language Requirements in Higher Education

Of the top 20 schools, the only one from a non-English-speaking country is Japan’s University of Tokyo; all other schools are located in the US, the UK, Australia or Canada. Since 2006, Prime Minister Abe’s has focused on fostering “global talent to reverse the nation’s declining competitiveness on the world stage,” an effort that has led him to target English-language studies as an area of improvement. His plan would mandate that people reach certain scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to gain college admission, graduation, and to qualify for government jobs.

Seen in Beijing, a T-shirt mocking poorly spoken English. Photo: AFP

Seen in Beijing, a T-shirt mocking poorly spoken English. Photo: AFP

Meanwhile, in China, a 2010 survey showed 80% of people polled agreed that there is a language crisis. “Because students devote more effort into passing English tests, they spend less time studying for courses for their major, dealing a ‘heavy blow’ to overall education,” said Zhang Shuhua, head of the Intelligence Research Academy. In March, some of China’s top universities dropped the requirement of an English test as part of their recruitment exams, yet over 40,000 Chinese students poured into Hong Kong to take the SAT exam, and the best are opting to study at foreign universities. This “brain drain” is a trend the leadership is seeking to reverse.

Similarly, Russia will begin testing foreign migrants in the Russian language and establish a “universal history textbook,” a fact that has many concerned. Education Minister Livanov said, “A history manual must not interpret events, but list a sequence of historical facts,” and indicated that it will be the teacher’s job to assess the facts and the logic behind them.

Teacher Training and Evaluation

REPORT CARD: While most schools have adequate numbers of classrooms, separate toilet facilities for girls and boys, the availability of playground, school ramp, kitchen shed and boundary wall remains a major challenge in many States. Photo: K.R. Deepak

REPORT CARD: While most schools have adequate numbers of classrooms, separate toilet facilities for girls and boys, the availability of playground, school ramp, kitchen shed and boundary wall remains a major challenge in many States. Photo: K.R. Deepak

In India, low test scores on basic math and literacy assessments have led to calls for a higher standard for teacher training. Yet, private schools, which many feel provide a superior education, do not offer their teachers the same level of training. According to child rights activist Vasudev Sharma, the disparity in teacher training “is one of the major differences between private and government schools,” yet parents continue to rely on the reputation of private schools.

In a similar move to raise the bar for teachers, Australia will require all future teachers to score in the top 30% of a literacy and numeracy test, and Scotland will require that teachers become content area specialists as well as pedagogues. Yet, as we have seen in Guatemala, efforts to enforce higher standards for teachers leads to concerns about exclusion. Ireland is pushing back against this notion. According to Education Minister Quinn, “a diverse society needs a diversity of teachers, not a ‘one size fits all’ approach which ‘streamlines a particular cohort into teaching’.” At the International Summit on the Teaching ProfessionJohn Bangs went a step further, stating that “a national teacher appraisal scheme is not essential to an education system’s success…. For appraisal to work, therefore, it must be valued by teachers and be seen as a welcome addition to their professional lives.” We have seen further examples of this notion in recent research conducted in Korea, Mexico, and India.

Data Manipulation

Phil Baty, Times Higher Education

Phil Baty, Times Higher Education

While teachers might struggle to see evaluations as essential to an educational system’s success, universities seem to have accepted the importance of the international ranking systems – so much so that they will go to extreme lengths. In response to the University of Cork’s recent attempt to manipulate the data, Phil Baty, editor of the international rankings of Times Higher Education, explained, “Global university rankings have become phenomenally influential in recent years – not only helping students to decide where to invest many thousands of dollars in tuition fees, but also in helping university leaders shape strategies and in helping governments to make multimillion-dollar funding decisions in some parts of the world.” Additionally, as seen in another recent example of educators manipulating data in the US, intense pressure to be successful within systems that value strict measures of evaluation can also lead to unintended outcomes.

Mexico

Mexico Approves Massive Education Reform

Associated Press (January 16, 2013)

President Enrique Pena Nieto

President Enrique Pena Nieto

President Enrique Pena Nieto will enact a new public education law that calls for the creation of a formal system for hiring, evaluating and promoting teachers, in an effort to put an end to the buying and selling of teaching positions.”The goal of the reform is a quality education and for this there are two big things (needed): evaluating professional teachers and the body that will evaluate the system,” said Sen. Juan Carlos Romero Hicks, president of the Senate’s Education Commission. With this move, the federal government will take control over the public education system, which has been dominated by the 1.5 million-member National Union of Education Workers.

Union President Elba Esther Gordillo

Union President Elba Esther Gordillo

Elba Esther Gordillo, who led the union for the past 23 years, has been accused of using union funds for personal gain.

For more information:

Hosts of Elba Esther mobilized against labor and educational reforms (in Spanish)

Mexico Takes on Teachers Over School Control 

Thousands of Teachers in Mexico Protest Pending Education Reform Initiatives

State Congresses Approve Education Reform (in Spanish)

Mexico Approves Education Reform, But Not Everyone is Celebrating (in Spanish)

Japan

Difficulty in Differenciating Good Teachers from the Rest in the New Teacher Evaluation System

Fukuashiba Elementary School in Ibaragi Japan

Shinano Mainichi Shinbun (September 11, 2012)

*original article in Japanese

Nagano prefecture in Japan began adopting a merit pay system based on the result of the teacher evaluation in 2011. The recent report on the result of the 2011 evaluation indicate that the system doesn’t work effectively. The result  shows that 16,767 out of 17,000 received C  in the A to E scale. A former principal in Nagano commented that he had no choice but to give a C to all teachers because assigning low evaluation scores required an evidence-based account, which was not practically feasible. The Nagano Department of Education commented that the current teacher evaluation system has to be something that produces mostly average C scores. This is due to the reconciliation with the teacher union, which argued against the Nagano Department of Education about highlighting the differences among teachers in terms of their teaching effectiveness.

For more information (in Japanese):

A webpage of Fukuashiba Elementary School in Ibaragi Japan

Norway

Marianne Aasen, photo: Arne Ove Bergo

Opening for student evaluation of teacher effectiveness (original article in Norwegian)

Espen Løkeland-Stai, Dagsagisven (September 15, 2012)

On Wednesday, September 19th, Norwegian Labour Party leader and head of the Education Committee in Parliament, Marianne Aasen, will propose a new teacher evaluation process that is systemic and standardized at the national level. Aasen will propose that evaluations of students decrease, while evaluations of teachers increase. In the end, she hopes the overall number of tests will be cut down.

Aasen believes these evaluations will need to be targeted and necessary, indicating that the current system suffers from varying quality of both the collection of data and the information that is actually used. They will also include student surveys of teacher performance.

Mimi Bjerkestrand photo: Linda Cartridge

Aasen, noting the current conflict at the heart of the teacher strikes in Chicago, does not want to introduce incentives such as teacher pay that is linked to student performance. She believes evaluations must be developed in consultation with teachers. Mimi Bjerkestrand, leader of Utdanningsforbundet (the Teachers Union), agrees. She sees the teaching situation as more complex and complicated than teacher performance, but believes that a thorough review is necessary. Bjerkestrand hopes the emphasis is on new information that will improve institutions, and not the rank and competition between schools.

For more information:

In 2004, Norway introduced the National Quality System (NKVS) for all schools.