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Opinion

The secret to evaluating teachers: Let other teachers do it

Anthony Yom, a teacher at Abraham LIncoln High School.
Anthony Yom teaches a pre-calculus class at Lincoln High School in Los Angeles.
(Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: In order to evaluate any professional (doctor, lawyer, teacher, librarian and so on), other experienced and skilled professionals must be involved in the process. (“Less test-iness over L.A. teacher evaluations,” June 13)

If administrators or legislators are truly interested in knowing if a teacher is effective, they must send experienced and knowledgeable educators to observe her as she interacts with her students. These evaluators need to be familiar with the teacher’s students and proficient in the teacher’s subject matter. It will not do to have the principal evaluate the chemistry teacher.

The problem we have in evaluating teachers is that no one wants to pay for it. Instead, those in charge seek to find an easy, inexpensive way of determining a teacher’s effectiveness such as having one administrator evaluate 20 people in one year or by giving a test that is not even designed for teacher evaluation.

Yes, a teacher can be evaluated, but other skilled professionals must be familiar with her work. And no, it would not be cheap.

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Linda Mele Johnson, Long Beach

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To the editor: The Los Angeles Unified School District’s new teacher evaluation system has some merits but also some weaknesses. It relies heavily on an administrator’s single yearly observation, and as noted in the article, even the worst teachers can pull off a decent one-hour evaluation.

As a retired science teacher and department chair, I worked with administrators to help new or struggling teachers improve. 

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I believe that more input either from department chairs or from veteran teachers within each department would enhance evaluations. Teachers know what it takes to be effective. Student evaluations, if handled correctly and initially instituted on a trial basis, might shed some light on how they are learning. 

Tom Hood, Long Beach

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