Saturday, October 21, 2006

Teacher evaluation proposal causes upset in Korea

Teacher evaluation is always a touchy subject, regardless of the country. Everyone agrees that teacher quality affects student learning, but how do you measure teacher performance in a meaningful and fair way?

Policymakers in South Korea think they've come up with a solution, but teachers there are crying foul, according to an article in yesterday's Korea Times. Here's what the government is proposing:

The system would allow students and parents to join the evaluation process. Under the new scheme, teachers would be asked to evaluate other teachers' performances based on educational curricula, class preparation and contents. Students would respond to a survey to measure their satisfaction with their teachers, and then parents would evaluate their children's satisfaction levels. The evaluations would take place every three years.

the Korean Teachers and Educational Workers' Union (KTU) says the new evaluation program "will destroy personal relationships between students and teachers and cause confusion." And they're serious -- the KTU "said that if the government introduces the system, its 80,000 members will stage a massive demonstration on Nov. 20."

So how should schools evaluate the quality of its teachers? There are a boat-load of philosophies and methods -- and an equivalent number of opposing views. Great schools have to wrestle with the issue while keeping an eye on the prize: a high quality education for all students. It's a tough issue, but one worth addressing.


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