My proposal to Racine Unified and Racine area schools: PIP.

Also known as The Parent Involvement Plan, PIP would require evaluations of all parents of students currently attending any school in Racine. Each child would be tested on basic life skills such as manners, hygiene, nutrition, sleep, communication, behavior and willingness to learn. Half of the parents’ score would depend on the student’s results and the other half on arbitrary judging of the parents’ roles and involvement.

Probably won’t fly, eh? Didn’t think so. Parents are often overwhelmed – many working more than one job. Some parents have children with special needs of varying degrees which makes it more difficult to discipline. And there are parents whom simply do not have the help, income or skill set to help their children develop into enthusiastic learners.

So why do we accept these excuses while completely minimizing the difficulty teachers have educating masses of students who carry with them all of these same barriers?

RUSD is implementing a pilot program this coming school year that is scheduled to go statewide by 2014. Julien Thomas Elementary will be the first in the district to adopt a new Teacher/Principal Evaluation Process. , this program will require evaluations to consider not only the teacher’s individual performance but half of the score will be determined by their students’ performances as well.

I think we all can agree (right? RIGHT??) that using merely test scores as a means to evaluate an educator is irresponsible and insufficient. Not all students are at the same readiness level when it comes to learning. Using tests to assess the teacher’s capabilities is simply unfair and it would help no one.

It was reported that student achievement would not focus EXCLUSIVELY on standardized tests. Does that mean a portion of the evaluation will indeed include these test scores? What are the actual factors in these evaluations?

One educator told me, “I believe in using a wide range of assessments as a part of instruction and learning activities but am hesitant to endorse the use of student performance as part of teacher evaluation without clean and legally firm understanding about how it will be used.”

I can imagine that this new system would make many teachers and principals nervous. After all, their livelihoods, their passion, their careers are being assessed and threatened by random and confusing measures.

Imagine 30 kids in a classroom; five of which have been diagnosed with some sort of special need; perhaps others carry the same symptoms without a formal diagnosis. And there are teachers who will have a high percentage of special needs students while others may have none. Some of these kids come to school without having eaten or slept for more than a couple of hours. Some come from abusive homes. Some have parents who have never stepped into their child’s school – let alone do anything to make sure their child is working up to potential.

There clearly needs to be a structured and reliable process to conduct employee reviews and assessments. There needs to be a way to measure an educator’s performance just like there is with any profession. However, with so many variables existing in a classroom and a community, it seems to me that judging a teacher’s success based on student performance is a little dangerous.

While parental evaluations would never come to fruition or even be tolerated in any way, we must consider the fact that their jobs as parents directly affect the success of their children’s educations. We have to stop putting all the responsibly and consequence on the educators. Not only is that unfair to them but it is counterproductive and short sighted. The mirrors need to start reflecting the roles of parents, too, and perhaps there needs to be some sort of accountability on their end.



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