Teachers Know Best….

There were a couple of bills passed by the legislature this year that restrict how administrators document and evaluate teachers.  We told you about SB 1451 on July 24th. That one prohibits low appraisal scores for a teacher based solely on office referrals. In a similar vein, HB 4310 tells us that schools may not penalize a teacher who does not follow the recommended scope and sequence for a course if the teacher determines that students need more or less time in a specific area. However, the school may take appropriate action regarding the teacher for deviating from the S&S based on documented evidence of a deficiency in classroom instruction obtained through observation or substantiated and documented third-party information.

These two bills come from a similar mindset—that we should not second guess teachers about how to teach and how to maintain classroom discipline.  Both bills draw a distinction between inferring vs. observing.  Inferring your way to a conclusion about a teacher’s performance is dangerous.  But observing the teacher in the classroom provides a more solid foundation for your conclusion. 

An example: Principal Jones notices that Teacher Smith sends more kids to the office than anyone else. But Jones has not personally observed Teacher Smith.  Instead, Principal Jones uses the office referrals to infer that Teacher Smith is weak in classroom management. 

Principal Jones is on shaky ground.  Until there is classroom observation to support the appraisal rating, there can be no deficiency based solely on an inference.  The same goes for that teacher who deviates from scope and sequence. The wise principal will investigate that situation and talk to the teacher about why this is happening.  HB 4310 tells us to let the teacher decide how strictly scope and sequence must be followed…at least until the administrator observes in the classroom.


Tomorrow: our new mental health bill