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Gates Concerned About Video Assessment But Favors Scripted Instruction

Under classroom observational protocols non-profit but powerful organizations like the Melinda Gates Foundation intents a new approach to the evaluation of teachers in situ. 

The information about the first steps in that direction and presented by The New York Times, has brought a lot of national attention among American educators. 

Rachael Maher, a seventh-grade math teacher at Alexander Graham Middle School in Charlotte, was among the 3,000 teachers researchers funded by the Melinda Gates had recruited in seven school systems: Dallas; Denver; Charlotte, N.C.; Hillsborough County, Fla.; Memphis; New York; and Pittsburgh. 

Out of the analysis of the 'experts,' Maher is said to be failed at least one of the protocols, called Framework for Teaching, which has a category called Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport. The teacher didn't pay attention to a kid who had his hand up. 

Videos like the one volunteered by Rachel Maher will be up by next June. Researchers among them Catherine A. McClellan and Tomas J. Kane will have about 24,000 videotaped lessons, but the research will eventually involve reviewing some 64,000 hours of classroom video. Dr. McClellan expects to recruit hundreds of educators and train them to score lessons by early next year. 

Unionized teachers - and independent ones, are not welcoming the new approach. They think that if we teach to accommodate the conditions for the video or the observer, then it is not a true assessment. Gates favors scripted instruction. So his evaluation method tests script performance and no more than that, tweets Ira Socol. 

 We don't want to demonize the new project. What concerns me is who are the experts behind the project. How and by whom they were select. Once we know that we will unload our worries as to why again experienced teachers are on call.

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