Excellent teaching goes unrecognized and poor teaching is ignored across the country and in Denver, according to a national study that says failed policies make teachers as interchangeable as widgets. The two-year study called "The Widget Effect: Our National Failure to Acknowledge and Act on Differences in Teacher Effectiveness" examined four states and 12 school districts, including those in Denver and Pueblo. It found common patterns: that teacher effectiveness rarely factors into decisions, such as how teachers are hired, fired or promoted.
"If you ask a superintendent and head of a union to name the top teachers and the bottom teachers, they couldn't tell you," said Dan Weisberg, vice president of policy for the New Teacher Project — the national nonprofit that conducted the study. "It goes back to the widget effect, which is the flawed assumption that each teacher is as good as the next."While there is much to criticize in teaching today, there is much more to criticize in school administration. Granted, there are many stories of the difficulty schools face when they try to dismiss or discipline teachers. However, that does not excuse districts from managing their staff. Far too often, stories are revealed of all teachers receiving "satisfactory" evaluations when there are clearly ineffective and underperforming teachers on staff. In fact, Tony Wagner recounted, in his book the Global Achievement Gap, the story of his first evaluation in which he was called into the office to sign his "satisfactory" report, though he'd never been observed.
Again, start at the top people. The Rockies just fired their manager because the team was losing. Take a memo.