Superintendent protests by giving teachers identical scores

A retired Idaho school superintendent has been reprimanded for giving all teachers in his district identical evaluation scores, but the former superintendent denies wrongdoing.

On Nov. 29, Idaho Education News, citing Idaho’s Professional Standards Commission review panel, reported that Republican State Rep. Ryan Kerby violated the law and ethics rules when he submitted inaccurate teacher evaluation data as superintendent of the New Plymouth School District. The panel ordered that a written reprimand be placed in Kerby’s educator certification file.

Kerby, as superintendent, opposed tying teacher pay to evaluations. “I tell you right now, if I had the whole thing to do over, I wouldn’t do anything different,” Kerby said.

In June 2015, Idaho Education News reported that Kerby had deliberately awarded identical overall scores on 2014-15 teacher evaluations. “Our school district . . . did not figure the state needs to know all that individual teacher data,” Kerby told Idaho Education News in 2015. “We feel the state should be concerned with whether kids are learning, not if Mrs. Smith got proficient, or unsatisfactory, or basic.”

But is Kerby’s nullification of the evaluation process a good example to the students? Is it the prerogative of a teacher, for whatever reason, to give identical grades to students regardless of performance?

James Davison Hunter argued in The Death of Character: “There is a body of evidence that shows that moral education has its most enduring effects on young people when they inhabit a social world that coherently incarnates a moral culture defined by a clear and intelligible understanding of public and private good . . . Needless to say, communities with this level of social and cultural integration and stability are scarce in America today.”

Against this backdrop, students need guidance to build the kind of character that can resist temptations to break the rules. The Jubilee Center for Character and Virtues calls this “professional virtue” and offers a template for teachers to help students intentionally build this virtue.