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  #1  
Old 11-09-2012, 07:34 PM
musevine musevine is offline
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Are You 'For' or 'Against' Academic Tenure?

Hi! I'm a new blood in the teaching profession and I've recently stumbled upon the topic of academic tenure on eQuibbly. I wonder what your thoughts are... I think they're running a controversial debate on this topic this week and if you ask me, I'm always FOR making education a better place - for students and teachers alike.
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  #2  
Old 11-09-2012, 07:44 PM
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Myrisophilist Myrisophilist is offline
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I like the idea of making teachers accountable throughout their careers. Ongoing evaluations, professional development, and personal goals should be consistent parts of teaching. The argument that it is nearly impossible to remove ineffective teachers after they have achieved tenure (after 2 or 3 years in most states, I believe) is valid, in my opinion. However, many politicians think that the way to deal with this is to measure a teacher's effectiveness by their students' standardized test scores. That's a big problem in my book because teachers don't have 100% control over how well their students do on tests. There are so many other factors that affect testing achievement. It's also not fair to put responsibility for a teacher's career on his or her students. Many of the effectiveness measurements don't take into account the progress students make while in a teacher's class. What if they started really low, made significant gains, but were still performing below average by the end of the year? Measuring student achievement would make some teachers only want to teach the highest achieving students. Who wants a low achieving student in the class if it's going to risk their job?
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Old 11-10-2012, 02:25 AM
EdEd EdEd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myrisophilist View Post
I like the idea of making teachers accountable throughout their careers. Ongoing evaluations, professional development, and personal goals should be consistent parts of teaching. The argument that it is nearly impossible to remove ineffective teachers after they have achieved tenure (after 2 or 3 years in most states, I believe) is valid, in my opinion. However, many politicians think that the way to deal with this is to measure a teacher's effectiveness by their students' standardized test scores. That's a big problem in my book because teachers don't have 100% control over how well their students do on tests.
I'd encourage you to review the MET project, report, and other documentation. I'll respond below, but teacher evaluation has come a long way. To be sure, there are areas in need of improvement or that aren't covered by existing evaluation plans, but it's better than nothing. More below...

http://www.metproject.org/index.php

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There are so many other factors that affect testing achievement.
Typically, these "other factors" are controlled by comparing a teacher's performance against performance of other teachers with similar a demographic of students served. In addition, measurement of multiple years helps eliminate effects of particularly challenging students and classes.

Still, other variables aren't always controlled for. For example, some teachers may get a heavier dose of behavioral issues, but those aren't necessarily controlled for. This doesn't mean they can't be, just that they often aren't. So, the argument here is against the particular implementation of teacher evaluation using achievement data, not teacher evaluation with achievement data as a whole.

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It's also not fair to put responsibility for a teacher's career on his or her students.
I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "fair" (fair to who?), but most fields have outcomes measurements in which a change in something external is expected to happen, such as patients in medicine.

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Many of the effectiveness measurements don't take into account the progress students make while in a teacher's class. What if they started really low, made significant gains, but were still performing below average by the end of the year?
Actually, the only ones really worth considering do take into account student progress. That's actually the only thing they take into account. So, even if all students ended the year below district average, if significant gains were made, then "achievement" is said to have occurred.

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Measuring student achievement would make some teachers only want to teach the highest achieving students. Who wants a low achieving student in the class if it's going to risk their job?
Again, good measurement systems look at the starting point for each child, and the growth experienced. So, let's say one child moves from a 30 to a 40 on a test, while another (high-achieving student) moves from a 80 to a 90. The same achievement would said to be occurring, so the teacher "gets credit" regardless of whether the student in low- or high-achieving.
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Old 11-10-2012, 02:26 AM
EdEd EdEd is offline
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Oh, and I'm against tenure. I see no reason to remove accountability from the profession after a certain number of years. Tenure was designed for university professors to have the academic freedom to pursue topics that might not be as preferable by the institution. Tenure, then, gives a certain protection for this kind of behavior by a professor. That same situation doesn't exist at the K-12 level, so tenure isn't appropriate at that level.
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  #5  
Old 11-10-2012, 05:56 AM
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czacza czacza is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdEd View Post
Oh, and I'm against tenure. I see no reason to remove accountability from the profession after a certain number of years. Tenure was designed for university professors to have the academic freedom to pursue topics that might not be as preferable by the institution. Tenure, then, gives a certain protection for this kind of behavior by a professor. That same situation doesn't exist at the K-12 level, so tenure isn't appropriate at that level.
I disagree. There are certain committees to serve on, conversations that need to be had, risks worth taking for which tenure affords some protection.
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  #6  
Old 11-10-2012, 05:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdEd View Post
Oh, and I'm against tenure. I see no reason to remove accountability from the profession after a certain number of years. Tenure was designed for university professors to have the academic freedom to pursue topics that might not be as preferable by the institution. Tenure, then, gives a certain protection for this kind of behavior by a professor. That same situation doesn't exist at the K-12 level, so tenure isn't appropriate at that level.
This.
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  #7  
Old 11-10-2012, 06:57 AM
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brigidy brigidy is offline
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Actually, the only thing tenure provides is that teachers are able to defend themselves if they are fired, the administration has to prove they did not do what they were required to do. I think that teachers deserve tenure. The only thing is, no one has really design a good/fair way to evaluate teachers...most only want to use test scores.
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  #8  
Old 11-10-2012, 08:14 AM
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Pure guess here, since we don't have tenure, but I imagine tenure is defined differently in different states.
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  #9  
Old 11-10-2012, 12:54 PM
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Myrisophilist Myrisophilist is offline
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Eded, thanks for the MET Project link and the info. In my state there was recent legislation passed that requires teacher evaluations to be mostly based on student achievement (yes, it was that broad...whatever "mostly" means) and I have heard nothing about the more sophisticated systems being considered for use. Some states are probably taking the time to make evaluations as fair for teachers as possible, but it's not the case here.
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  #10  
Old 11-10-2012, 01:32 PM
waterfall waterfall is offline
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I think most people that are against tenure simply haven't worked for a bad principal and don't really understand the need for it. My last principal would have never, ever fired anyone on the basis that they "spoke up too much" or that she simply didn't like their personality. The general attitude in that school was that tenure wasn't needed. We did have it, but even some of the tenured teachers said they wouldn't mind if it were gotten rid of. They didn't have to worry about being fired for anything other than actual poor performance anyway, so tenure seemed silly to them.

In my new school, it is a whole different ballgame. Tenure allows people the freedom to actually speak up about things that are going wrong in our school. I can't imagine how much worse things would be if we didn't have it. Two of the teachers on my team are extremely experienced and both tenured. I can guarantee that if they didn't have that protection, the P would get rid of them because they speak up. The are both excellent teachers and they really care about the students. We have a population that is over 90% ELL. Both of these teachers also have degrees in TESOL, and they are always speaking up about what's right for ELLs which for some reason admin doesn't want to deal with. One of them is also a union rep and her tenure allows her the freedom to stick up for the rest of us too. She's not afraid to tell admin that it's completely inappropriate to cuss people out at a staff meeting (yes, that happened) or to speak to people the way she does. My admin also decided that the only students allowed to receive intervention are students that are very close to passing the state test (meaning no resources for actual "low" students) and my teammates spoke up about how unethical that was. Even as someone who doesn't have the protection of tenure, I completely support it. If a teacher truly is a "bad teacher", then admin can go through the proper steps to fire them.
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