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Rating teachers like Microsoft employeesNovember 17, 2011 @ 3:32 am (Updated: 8:39 am - 11/17/11 )
Microsoft is known for its tough employee-rating system that sometimes pits co-workers against each other. The Gates Foundation wants to evaluate teachers using that Microsoft evaluation model.
At the annual Microsoft Alumni Foundation dinner last night, Melinda Gates said improving the United States educational system is a top Gates Foundation investment, and the organization has undergone in recent years a "course-correction" on how best to do that.
Supporting small schools and smaller learning environments "is not the answer," she said. "The answer, we have determined, is in improving the quality of the teacher."
She said only one-third of all students today leave high school prepared for college. The national system for evaluating teachers is shoddy and is allowing many bad teachers to ruin the educational experience in K-12, she says.
"Did you know that over 98 percent of the teachers are rated satisfactory? So the system now is poor," says Gates.
She says the Gates Foundation is borrowing from Microsoft's own employee-rating system to develop a more rigorous teacher evaluation system, as a test model, at a school district in the Tampa, Florida area.
"In less than a year, the kids there are seeing that a real evaluation system is making a difference," she says, and a growing number of districts around the country are interested in the model.
A few years, Microsoft changed its hyper-competitive employee evaluation system. The company softened a ranking system that forced managers to limit the number of top scores they had on their team.
The "forced curve" meant that some employees were ranked poorly, regardless of their work because someone had to be at the bottom of the curve. A newer evaluation system puts more accountability on managers to improve their skills, and gives employees a clearer understanding of how they can be promoted. Still, it's an evaluation system that takes months to complete.
AP file photo
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