The Mystery of Excellence

Originally posted on CURMUDGUCATION

Diane Ravitch’s recent columns about Ms. McLaughlin, one of the undeservingly employed terrible teachers of the Vergara trial, underlines one of the central problems of the whole teacher evaluation portion of the reformster dream.

Ms. McLaughlin won awards for teaching excellence not once, but twice in her career. And yet one of the plaintiffs found her to be grossly ineffective. Now, it’s possible that there are factors at play here– the plaintiff was reportedly recruited for the lawsuit by her only “effective” teacher, a teacher who was RIFed and whose job was then taken by Ms. McLaughlin. So, wheels within wheels.

But could it be possible that a teacher so many students found wonderful was a total dog for another teacher? Of course. Because as much as we think we get excellence in this country, excellence is still a mystery. Continue reading…