The jumping off point for this post is the game show Remote Control that premiered in 1987 as MTV’s first non-music show. Contestants, sitting in recliners, would point their remotes at a TV and name a channel. The host would name a corresponding category and ask a question. My favorite category was Dead or Canadian? for which the contestant would identify someone obscure to MTV fans as belonging to someone dead (like Allen Dulles) or Canadian (like Leonard Cohen).

I loved that category and like to think of similar ones relating to education, like Teacher Evaluation: 1987 or 2015?

So let’s play! The following 10 quotes are copied from from articles appearing in Edweek in between either August 1987 and August 1988 or between August 2014 and August 2015.

The link after each quote takes you to the original article, and the correct answers are listed at the end.

1) “Anyone who says that student learning shouldn’t be a part of teacher evaluation actually demeans the profession.” [Well known politician]

2) The Mississippi Education Department will discontinue statewide standardized testing of kindergarten students next year, amid concerns that its test is shifting the kindergarten curriculum toward formal instruction and away from approaches that allow children to progress at their own rates.

3) There are stellar teachers, mediocre teachers, and poor ones. All can learn and grow with the times if led and supported.

4)  [Well known politician] said, “The national education organizations have once again punted. They have endorsed teacher evaluations as long as they are all positive and have no effect. … This is ridiculous. In fact, teacher evaluations without rewards for those who are good, and warnings for those who teach poorly, are a pointless exercise that the public ought not to tolerate.”

5) Why haven’t teachers — and their associations–proposed better evaluation protocols, since teachers have been organized for most the last century?

6) Stultifying and archaic school structures, along with the disincentives now built into the teaching occupation, are yielding us a teacher shortage of unprecedented proportions. The following statistics suggest the extent of the problem:

  • One in 13 American teachers is not certified.
  • One in 6 has taught a grade or a subject in which he or she received no preparation.
  • Twenty-four percent of America’s teachers say that, if they could start over again, they would not teach.
  • There are more school districts in the United States than there are physics teachers.

7) [Well-known columnist] made crystal clear that:

  • Some legislators had little understanding of what they supported
  • Standardized tests are not the measure that we need
  • There is an inequity across the grades in the methods to be used to Evaluate teachers
  • That evaluation pressure will influence teachers’ thinking about encouraging students
  • The math used to figure all this out is in question, and
  • Requiring outside teacher observers will upset the running of all schools.

8) The opportunity is there to negotiate for their priorities – smaller class-sizes, fully staffed schools, and a pay raise – if they are willing to accept three levels of performance. I think the three levels are worth it, if it means better conditions for teachers and students.

9) Schools must avoid the time traps generated by lockstep assessment, placement, and instructional procedures. These children’s progress should not be determined by standardized tests, but by multiple evaluation tools, including teacher observation and curriculum-based assessment.

10) “My experience is that finding a way to fairly reward better teaching is the holy grail of K-12 education,” said [a prominent senator]. “But Washington will get the best long-term result by creating an environment in which states and communities are encouraged, not ordered, to evaluate teachers.”


1987:  2), 4), 6), 9)

2015: 1), 3), 5), 7), 8), 10)

How’d you do? Any big surprises? Observations? Comments? I’d love to read you thoughts, and thanks for playing!




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