• TL Zempel

Why aren’t school teachers given a grade based on the average grade of their students?

Updated: Apr 23, 2019

Okay, let’s do that. And while we’re at it, let’s also grade these other workers in our society in a similar way:

  • firemen, on an average of how many buildings they participated, actively, in saving;

  • day care workers, on how many of their toddler-charges had an “accident” that day;

  • policemen, on how many speeding tickets they wrote that did not get contested or ignored by the person receiving them;

  • retail clerks, on how many people walked by their counter (say a make-up or jewelry counter) and bought vs. didn’t buy something;

  • traffic crossing guards, on how many children stepped off the curb before being instructed to do so;

  • grocery store stocking clerks, on how quickly the merchandise they put on the shelves gets taken by consumers. Conversely, don’t forget to dock the worker pay if someone picks up an item from his shelf, looks at it, and then puts it back;

  • public librarians, on how many people talked “loudly” in the library at any given time;

  • airline pilots, on how many of their flights were delayed or cancelled, because this affects their on-time rating, which indicates just how good they are at flying an airplane;

  • butchers, on how many cuts of meat were ordered by a customer and then abandoned when the customer saw the price tag on the final, cut piece of meat;

  • civil engineers, on whether people suddenly decided to drive on the opposite side of the road, ignoring all the traffic lights and city regulations that have been so carefully planned and executed;

  • doctors, on an average of how many people follow their advice regarding diet, exercise, and preventive health maintenance;

  • bus drivers, on how many people are waiting at each stop. Again, dock the driver if someone at a stop changes his mind and does not board the bus.

What you are asking, really, is why teachers aren’t graded using a process that is, bottom-line-speaking, out of their control. Education is a tricky business — sure, teachers need to be “good at their job”, but what is the expectation for students? Do they also need to be “good at their job”?

Just because I make the material engaging and do my best to form a relationship with my students doesn’t mean any one of them is going to give a damn about the test I’ll administer on Friday. Taking a test is hard work, and many children decline to put forth the effort, when push comes to shove, because nothing is riding on the outcome of the test for them.


[The truth is that teachers actually are graded on their students’ standardized test scores. The more we as a society depend on those scores for an accurate measurement of how much ‘larnin’ is goin’ on’, the more we teachers will feel forced to “teach to the test”. Our job security and salaries are riding on it .]

T.L. Zempel, author and retired teacher
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copyright 2020 by TL Zempel