PURPOSE AND IMPORTANCE OF EVALUATION
Our group questioned the PURPOSE and IMPORTANCE of evaluation in three educational settings:
teacher evaluation; classroom/self evaluation ; and project/curriculum evaluation
and attempted to figure out what role evaluation plays in effecting positive change and/or reform.
Most participants were skeptical about the value of teacher evaluation as it is currently practiced in their school district. Unless a teacher is particularly ineffective the process seems to be a formality. This evaluation is almost always formal and conducted by an outside evaluator.
- The merit of the evaluation has seemed to me to be directly correlated to the merit of the evaluatOR! (if you get my drift....) Some administrators gave helpful, constructive suggestions or criticisms, while others seemed to
merely find something to write down!! To me, the evaluation is only of value, if I respect the judgement of the evaluator and agree to the relevance of the evaluation tool used.
We agreed that self evaluation and daily evaluation of classroom practices and methods, although usually
informal, were very beneficial to all teachers and that we were constantly evaluating. We also wondered
if evaluations produced by teachers in the classroom or involved in a project were less realistic/critical
than any done by outside evaluators. Also, if it IS important for teachers to perform formal evaluations,
why are we not given time to to so. Finally we wondered how teachers could become true stakeholders in the
- I think that teachers do informal evaluations all the time (gee, that example went over like a lead balloon, etc.). But for a formal evaluation to be extremely important, I think that there needs to be some sort of outlet that actually cares about that evaluation.
- I guess one of my biggest hang ups with formal evaluations is that it often does not measure what we as educators are trying to accomplish. I have yet to see any type of standardized Assessment that measures a students creativity, responsibility, and desire to learn.
- It seems as if evaluation is what we use to make most of our decisions during the course of a day.
- I am constantly using formative evaluation during my lesson--mainly by their facial expressions and questions. My students provide a lot of the summative evaluations by their responses in journals, assignments,
discussions, and formal assessments (at the end of a lesson). As teachers, I think we know that if students do not do well on assessments, it could be that our lesson wasn't effective, and we need to present it in another method. Sometimes it is the student, but I try to look at what I could do better--I evaluate myself quite a bit. I hope to learn some techniques throughout this course which I can use to evaluate both myself and my students!
Kevin Leander summarized our frequent comments and frustrations with project and curriculum evaluation which is usually formal and conducted by an outside group and often associated with a grant.
- One of the points that several of you have made in different ways is that evaluations, and especially formal ones it seems, often evaporate once they're finished. They become pressed into books or journals and don't seemingly have any effects on local or institutional practice.
Our comments showed a general distrust of formal evaluations and almost no one felt that we as teachers are true stakeholders in the evaluation process or that the evaluations themselves were going to help us do a better job of helping students learn or changing the way we structure educational institutions.
Pamela Van Walleghen:
- how often do we decide that what a district or group of students really needs is tied to whatever funding proposal looks like it offers the best chance to get money or equipment in the classroom.)
- To understand if our districts value meaningful evaluation you have to look at their own practices at the district level.
- If a district does not think that it is important to evaluate even informally its own programs internally, they will probably have a difficult time believing that formal evaluation is valuable and in encouraging it in their teachers.
- The purpose of the evaluation by ISBE seemed to be to gather enough positive feedback to go back to the legislature and ask for additional funding
- the evaluation was limited to a written report containing a formative evaluation, summative evaluation and report of sustained activities. No follow up by ISBE to see if there was any validity to our findings.
- in neither case were any findings reported back to the middle school.
- I feel that part of the problem with evaluation is that it is not news. A new program begins with a lot of hype- TV, press, etc. It is NEWS (and schools like this positive PR)- that something innovative is starting in the district, something that is going to boost test scores, decrease truancy, create angelic behavior- whatever. Evaluations, even when the program is wildly successful, don't get any of this excitement. People are just that way- and schools are made of people.Why put in the time and effort on evaluating an old program when no one cares- better to start something new.
- My experiences with formal evaluation are few, however, I was involved in one formal evaluation through the school district. This evaluation involved the effectiveness of the behavior disordered programs in our school district. In this instance, the evaluation was conducted by an external evaluator. Much like chapter 1 describes we encountered some of the same problems with the individual. The teachers involved in the program felt the evaluator did not take enough time to really get to know and understand the program. In addition after weeks of worrying about the fate of our program we still have not been supplied with the results and conclusions. So what really was the purpose of this process? How many people in the school system have many of the same frustrations and experiences with formal evaluation?
Although it was clear from our discussions that we were hoping to learn evaluation techniques for our own classrooms we were it seems a cynical group when we tried to imagine the effect of formal evaluations on the larger issues of curriculum and education reform.
- The irony of all of this work: the outside report was completely thrown out the window.
- Formal evaluation seems to be the luxury of the managers of large-scale programs.
- The American values expressed in the phrase "new and improved" explain the drive to conduct continuous evaluation/total quality management in every aspect of US life.
- As to how evaluations really work - I don't think it really matters which words you use, as long as they are big, and sound important. What matters is who you know, or who you "wined and dined"- that is what results in a positive evaluation. It may help that the object being evaluated has some merit to others, but ultimately on those in power are going to evaluate using their own agenda- which often has nothing to do with whatever is written down.
Perhaps those of us who are gaining this depth of knowledge about evaluation will be better equipped to determine the best uses of technology to help teachers teach and students learn.
- focus of evaluation should be more on the social side than on the technological side. Just as Bruce points out in the Foreword of this book, the research should see, although it is more difficult, "whether and how students' and teachers' lives are changed."
- To sum up, if we evaluate technology only for its own sake, we have too much at risk. However, if we put the evaluation in a broader context, taking as more factors as possible--social as well as technological-- into account, we are doing justice to evaluation in its broader sense, which will be useful to a broader range of audience.
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