Teachers, Who Has Your Backs?

Empowering teacher self-assessment should become the modern benchmark in student learning and classroom inspiration.

GUEST COLUMN | by Jim Lewis

CREDIT Silverback Learning SolutionsAcross the nation, a teacher’s predominant measure of effectiveness has been deadlocked to student performance on standardized assessments. Recent evidence from leading research institutions and education experts including the Gates Foundation asserts a much more accurate teacher assessment can be derived from a combination of student feedback, growth measures across a valued set of performance indicators, observations of classroom practice, and professional contributions. Viewed in composite, this more modern approach gathers complementary information that can provide a more balanced and accurate picture of individual teacher performance and effectiveness.

Historically, teacher performance has been tied to annual standardized testing class scores, which was effectively “the best indicator we had” based upon the absence of modern, technology enabled teachers and classrooms. It’s now time we do much better than that and leverage current research and data analytics to provide greater insights into how we can comprehensively and equivalently measure a teacher’s impact on their classrooms and students.

How nice would it be if teachers could more accurately measure their impact across different axis over multiple assessments, rather than merely across one standardized testing period?

How nice would it be for teachers to measure their impact, identify areas of focus and be connected to tools and resources to help them improve their skills, to elevate their impact and performance in the classroom?

How nice would it be for teachers to have a new system, a technological partner in their daily routine that supports them from start to finish, A-Z? Greatness is not found in the measurement of a single test, but more accurately in the journey of inspired education, throughout life.

America is faced with perhaps the most important economic transformation in history. Globalization and technology are combining to re-engineer a new era of employment opportunities that require both specialized experience along with the ability to flexibly adapt and, yes, learn over time. Teacher effectiveness and student achievement are like a strong marriage that needs to be nurtured and adapt over time. We seemed to have left teacher assessment at the altar. This is exactly why it is so important that today’s student achievement comes from within—and is taught by the best teachers who are passionate about their craft and inspire students to always achieve through continuing education, professional development, and most importantly – by mentoring others along the way.

It’s no secret that many teachers and students are bored stiff with some of the traditional, time-worn, and highly standardized offerings that we continue to use in K-12 schools, and frankly they should be. This is a highly digital and personalized “self-enabled” generation unlike any in history. We need to unbind K-12 education from its reliance on traditional, time worn textbooks to state-of-the-art technology, from overheads to handhelds. Technological innovations continue to dramatically outpace many industries, including traditional education. We must leverage many proven but not widely adopted ways technology can improve the delivery of education and how teacher performance is measured. The regimen at schools must be re-imagined to include opportunities for teachers to discover new ways to teach and meaningfully engage with their students, making attending and working in a school exciting and important to them. At the very least, we cannot bore them any longer.

Students also need to feel that educators are excited about their roles as teachers and that technology can motivate, challenge, and improve teaching and learning. Teachers must share in the excitement of “educating the dreams” of each student and help students turn those dreams into meaningful and passionate pursuits. And they also need to have the necessary technology and tools to work in the evolving classroom and to stimulate the eager minds of the digital generation of kids.

Today’s kids are already excited about technology and all things new — new beginnings, new dreams, and think they can do anything. Teachers need to pursue this drive. The technological world they have grown up in has already prepared them for much more than we are providing them, and we must find ways to better align our curriculum and profession to embrace traditional educational challenges with technology as the new common denominator in reaching, invigorating and educating students who are starving for more.

My company was founded by educators to help fellow educators accelerate achievement in all students. Our award-winning Student Achievement Solution, Mileposts, tightly knits individualized learning plans and interventions with curriculum and assessment, leveraging your existing investments in those areas so your schools can quickly become powerhouses of personalized learning.

Mileposts is the first solution of its kind to provide over 14 million free digital resources and assessment items indexed to state standards via the Gooru search engine for learning. With it, teachers can quickly create assignments and interventions, monitor achievement, and gain insights to improve instruction to any group, subgroup, or individual student. We provide all of this in one cloud-based, value-conscious platform, quick and easy for teachers, administrators, students, and parents to access from any device.

We’ve been working with classroom educators and state and district professional organizations on a new technology solution that empowers and promotes teacher effectiveness by drawing attention to the entire body of experience. For educators who feel like they’ve been standing alone in the effort to promote professionalism in the profession, help is finally on the way.

What are the criteria that you feel teachers wish to be measured by? And how should composite assessment impact and measure their value? We would like to hear from you in the comments below.

Dr. Jim Lewis is the CEO of Silverback Learning Solutions. Stay tuned to www.silverbacklearning.com and @SilverbackLS on twitter for an update in the very near future.

  • Cherie Le Penske


    Excellent piece, very insightful, timely and helpful. Great work Silverback Learning!

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