Regarding the Dec. 14 story “Gregoire takes aim at education reform,” Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposal to change the way teachers and principals are evaluated shifts the focus of evaluation from the threat of being fired, where most involved don’t care to tread, to working on improving the effect one has on students. The four-category (unsatisfactory, basic, proficient, and distinguished) evaluation process will refer those designated as “basic” to helpful feedback and/or to people specially trained to work with them. The proposal also provides more intensive training for those doing the evaluating than they currently receive.
A shortcoming of the proposal is that it is subjective, leaving at risk those who are not good at or choose not to participate in the politics that pervade human interaction. Objectivity would be brought in if the students were to take tests that measured their progress. Unlike those of the present, the tests would be directly tied to the curriculum, meaning that teachers and students could focus on understanding the material rather than test-taking skills. The curriculum could be boosted to be as challenging as desired and it would be difficult to rate a teacher as “unsatisfactory” or “basic” if the students’ test results indicated otherwise.