Friday, January 30, 2015

How to Effectively Test Teachers with Technology

By Sean Scarpiello

This may come as a surprise but, Finland has one of the most successful education systems. This has been proven by international standardized tests and graduate success. When comparing Finland’s education system with that of the United States, there are a few large differences, one of which is how teachers in Finland are treated. All Finlandian teachers must meet a range of difficult requirements and pass challenging tests to become educators. In fact, all educators in Finland must have a Master’s degree in order to teach. While it would be extremely difficult to overhaul the setup of the educational system of the United States to model that of Finland in the near future, there are still some routes that the United States schools can take to mimic the archetype of Finland’s educators system.

Teachers in Finland are held in higher regard, much like doctors and college professors are held in the United States. This is due to Finnish teachers continuing their education  through further education, much like doctors and professor in the United States. In the United States, the idea of grading a teacher becomes a concern because  people fear that grading teachers on their students’ performances (on standardized tests) will cause teachers to simply “teach the test” to students. However, a new company called Panorama Education is looking to change all of this by grading teachers in such a way that stimulates improvement and better outcomes for students.

Panorama Education tests teachers through the use of surveys given to students in order to assess how well teachers are doing. Teachers will not receive an actual grade on their performance, but these surveys will collect data on what students are thinking about the teachers performance. In fact, some schools surveyed have shown that some teachers subconsciously spend more time helping male students in the classroom while other surveys revealed that some departments in school are focusing less on special needs students. While these surveys are not intended to be used to get rid of teachers, they can help shed light on some problem areas that need to be improved. Panorama Education actually works through a technology based system that collects the paper and pencil based surveys completed by students and analyzes the results.

Currently, many schools look to make improvements in their system by hiring outside contractors to come in and examine teachers and students in classrooms. These firms are expensive and must take place over the course of many months. Panorama Education on the other hand is much less expensive and schools can expect data back almost instantly. Panorama education can be even more effective than outside education consultants as schools hear exactly what their students are thinking about regarding their teachers and classes. Overall, Panorama Education can be a huge success as it fosters an improved education for a greater number of students through the advent of new technology.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This post was very interesting. I had an adjunct professor in college that the students evaluated and the college found that the professor was being very difficult in grading. This system worked well for our school.