Gates, whose foundation has taken on many education projects, recently announced his plans to invest $335 million in a new idea for teacher evaluation; digital videos in the classroom. Reportedly, no one has done this particular method of evaluation in the classroom before.
The project is more than video-tapping what happens in the classroom. The goal is to study what is taking place on a scientific level; to note what is working and what is not working.
No doubt, parents will welcome this new idea. But unions and teachers could resist. My hope is that they won’t. While we all wait for Superman to come along for our children and for the economy, we are fortunate to have those with the means reach out and do something about our failing schools. Gates stated in a New York Times article yesterday that:
Mr. Gates is tracking the research closely. The use of digital video in particular has caught his attention. In an interview, he cited its potential for evaluating teachers and for helping them learn from talented colleagues.
“Some teachers are extremely good,” Mr. Gates said. “And one of the goals is to say, you know, ‘Let’s go look at those teachers.’ What’s unbelievable is how little the exemplars have been studied. And then saying, ‘O.K., How do you take a math teacher who’s in the third quartile and teach them how to get kids interested — get the kid who’s smart to pay attention, a kid who’s behind to pay attention?’ Teaching a teacher to do that — you have to follow the exemplars.”
Better evaluation that also provides better remedies when “fixes” are identified as being necessary is the way to go. Neither our children, our future nor our economy can afford knee-jerk reaction but, rather, thoughtful, scientific review for the betterment of us all. Thank you, once again, Mr. Gates.
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