Reimagining the Role of Testing and Teachers

This will probably come off as hopelessly naive to someone in education, but why can't parents choose the teachers their student get?

Seems a system like this could be created that aligns a bunch of incentives much better:

  1. Parents research available English teachers in addition to talking to other parents and their kids about what teachers they like and want. Maybe have teachers available for interviews, presentations, a poster session, or whatever.

  2. Parents then rank what English teachers they want in order of preference.

  3. Students get assigned to teachers via a system that uses the rankings.

  4. Teachers get paid in large part based on where they rank in parent preferences (instead of on standardized tests).

This would create a sort of competitive marketplace that incentivizes and rewards good teachers, better matches students and teachers, and gives parents more say in how their kids are taught.

Secondarily: problems with parent's ability to assess teacher quality

Primarily: teacher's unions are vehemently opposed to any sort of merit-based selection or bay, they fight hard to keep everything strictly seniority based.

Though obviously not perfect, I think parents are probably the best assessors of teacher quality.

But yes, I agree politically this probably isn't possible in public schools. But what meaningful changes are?

But this runs the risk of parents who refuse to see their children as anything less than perfect, explicitly or implicitly.

Parents choose their kids sports coaches, and they have to face up to the facts that their children are not perfect athletes. Most parents care about this far more than being a perfect student. Nevertheless, coaches, who are paid by parents, seem to do fine. This is primarily because there is an outside grading agency that ranks the children, in the form of the athletic competition. When people have meaningful outside metrics, market forces work well.

"Thinking their kid is perfect" may not just refer to being the highest test scorer. Parents may, for instance, think that their kid is innocent of wrongdoing. Some parents may even have warped values and not care that the kid did wrong, but care that the kid can't get away with it. Or the related situation where the teacher fails the kid and the parent doesn't want the teacher to, even if it's the kid's own fault.

The average American cares much more about sports than academics, and yet, coaches manage to deal with this all the time. No parent ever thinks their child committed a foul, everyone thinks their kid should start, etc. Sports deals with this by having independent judges and referees run competitions. The same would be very easy for schools, and moving teachers from judges, who grade students and decide how they are doing, to coaches who try their best to get the student the highest grade possible, would be a major win, in my opinion.

I would like to move to a system there teachers did not fail students, rather they did their best to help the student, but the student failed the independent test. Having the teacher and student be on the same side had major advantages. The American system, where teachers act primarily as gatekeepers, is strange to me, as it seems the incentives are in the wrong direction.