Really Charlotte Danielson?

Imagine this scenario. An 8th grade economics teacher has just graded 30 tests.  One student named Charles Daniels has scored lower than he anticipated.  His score was a 71%.  Charles is an extremely motivated young student who is curious and wants to learn as much as he can about economics. He asks his teacher Miss Charlotte why he received a 71%.  She told him he didn’t study hard enough. Fair enough. Charles did have a lot of other tests that day and was spread a little too thin.  Maybe he could have studied a bit harder.

He asks Miss Charlotte to share with him what he got wrong on the five sections of the test.  Miss Charlotte wants her students to learn form their mistakes and offers Charles the percentile points for each of the five sections. Charles saw that he received a 90% in Section 1, 90% in Section 2 and 71% in Sections 3, 4 and 5.  Charles wants to retake the test.  Miss Charlotte cares about her students, wants them to succeed, and always offers a redo.

Charles asks Miss Charlotte if she can show him what questions he got right and what questions he got wrong. Fair enough, right? Well Miss Charlotte told Charles that all she will give him are the percentile scores for each section.  Charles asks Miss Charlotte how is he to know what he got right and wrong?  “Study the book,” says Miss Charlotte. Charles is confused. “But Miss Charlotte the book is a couple hundred pages, I already read it and it conflicts with the handouts you provided us,” exclaimed Charles.  Charles can’t believe that his beloved teacher who everyone seems to adore these days will not provide him feedback, won’t share with him the mistakes he made so he can learn.  Charles doesn’t know he can improve on his score without seeing how he was scored.  He will take the test again but has lost faith in his teacher Miss Charlotte.

If your school district requires your administrators to take this test for the Danielson Framework for Teaching, this blog should resonate with you.  Imagine if you as a teacher chose not to provide your students any feedback other than a percentile score on a final test?  Would that stand in your school? What would the student’s parents say?  What would your school leaders say?  I know there is no way you would get away with denying the student opportunity to see what they got right and wrong, so they can learn from their mistakes.  Yet, denying takers of the Danielson administrator test the opportunity to reflect on their passing or failing score for growth and learning is what takers of this are subjected to unfortunately.  Why Charlotte?

It just doesn’t make sense to do this and contradicts much of what I understand about the Danielson Framework for Teaching.  For example, if you are evaluating a teacher with the Danielson model you must provide evidence for how you scored the teacher you are evaluating.  So if you gave a teacher a score of 2 (basic) on domain 3a, you have to provide evidence of why you scored the teacher this way.  You and the teacher can discuss how to move that score from 2 to a score of 3 (proficient). This is how we learn. This makes sense.

Charlotte Danielson is not a Zen Master offering zen koans to her disciples such as, “Does a dog have buddha nature?  Muuuuu.”  I don’t know why Charlotte has designed her test system as if it were a zen koan, a question that has no real answer and is offered to the learner with no feedback.   I actually have liked so much of what we have learned about Danielson.  It provides an excellent framework for teaching, and I think Teachscape is potentially a great tool for evaluators.  However, denying any educator the opportunity to reflect and learn from their mistakes is not effective and just plain bad for anyone who cares about education.  Muuuuuuuuu!

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