I hope the pilot of this plane is at least proficient. I’ve just finished working for a couple of days on a panel of experts on a small part of an evaluation tool for evaluating principals (they’re my “PALS”, remember?) We basically just defined the “cut scores” for labeling principals as “Below Basic,” “Basic,” “Proficient,” and “Distinguished.” A lot of work, I must say, to put labels on folks.
Ours was only a small part of the whole project, much like building a house, but only being responsible for the porch. The rest of the evaluation tool consists of a detailed report on strengths and weaknesses in each of 36 categories. Pretty handy.
But I’m a little concerned that the front porch is the first and most important impression that this house might give. It’s a bit like, well… giving a student a single grade in your class. Actually, more like a single grade for all their classes put together. Like a grade point average, but no number, just labels: Stupid, Almost Average, Pretty Smart, and Nerd. Except in education we usually use more positive sounding words like Hatching, Emerging, Developing, Pubescing, and so on.
Why not just use the GPA? Or better yet, look at grades for each class. Or the grades for each of them over time. Or break each class into an academic grade and a citizenship/effort grade like we do at our middle school.
I suppose at some point it just becomes too much information to realistically deal with (although we do have some pretty sophisticated technology, like computers and stuff.) But a single label is just too simple a metric to describe someone, and I’m a bit concerned how a superintendent or school board might use it. This could be a powerful tool for improvement, but if it fell into the wrong hands that were not focused on improvement… who knows how they might use it?
As for this afternoon, I just hope my pilots are well beyond “hatchling” and somewhere in the vicinity of “eagle.”