The article ‘5 New Ways School Are Evaluating Student Learning‘ offers some interesting options for building evaluation capacity in schools. While there is a promising mix of qualitative and quantitative themes, it will be interesting to see how they are implemented in practice amid constraints like schools’ limited budgets, the sheer diversity of students, and building consensus (or at least familiarity) within a disparate research community.
An excellent article in The Washington Post examines the pitfalls of evaluating teachers based on student test scores. This commonly used method of assessing teacher effectiveness has been proven unreliable as it discounts a number of factors that can influence student performance, for instance, family income level, parental involvement and teacher-student ratio.
This means a teacher who is effective can still receive poor ratings, and vice versa.
It was particularly interesting to read about the unintended consequences on students of using this evaluation model, where not only teachers but also students get labelled as ‘under performing’, and fail to receive real help to improve themselves.
There are many misconceptions about classroom design, for instance, its perceived lesser importance to other areas like quality of curriculum and teacher effectiveness, and that it is a costly affair. However, research has shown the profound effect of classroom aesthetics on teaching and learning. It is also possible to build a high-performance classroom by getting creative with layouts and inexpensive materials.
Besides considering the important factors in classroom planning, it may be necessary to experiment with a few designs before deciding on one that best fulfills your educational needs (try Classroom Architect, a free online classroom design tool). The goal of classroom design should be to provide students with a learning environment that supports imaginative activity.