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Teacher Evaluation: A Rush to Judgment?

Tingley-021 color It seems absolutely reasonable to me that at least part of a teacher’s evaluation should be based on how well her students learned as determined by state or standardized tests.  There are endless parallels to other professions in which competency is determined by outcomes.  What I don’t understand is why lawmakers, both state and federal, insist that changes in teacher evaluation protocols take place immediately if not sooner.  Why not take some time to do it right?  Why risk shoddy implementation that will prove all the naysayers right?

Maryland received $250 million in federal grant monies to build a new model for teacher evaluation that includes test scores.  Recently, according to the Washington Post, the state has asked for a year’s extension to continue to work on the plan.  State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick hopes that the new model won’t be implemented until 2013-14 so that there is time to train school people and field test the new model before complete implementation.  Says Grasmick, “If it rolls out too soon, it won’t be well done, and there will be reactions from teachers that this is a half-baked idea.”

Give that woman a Klondike Bar.

Other states have been working to put the brakes on teacher evaluation reform to keep it from careening into a stone wall of teacher resistance.  The New York States Council of School Superintendents, for example, in a series of white papers, pointed out to the Board of Regents that “assuming a typical fifty hour administrative work week, the evaluation effort [currently proposed] would represent approximately twenty-three full weeks of the forty week school year.”

Klondike bar Steven Sawchuck’s Teacher Beat blog succinctly outlines New York’s challenges, but as a former New York State superintendent, I can see in the offing the same problems schools had with shared decision-making.  The format for teacher evaluation is a subject for collective bargaining in the state.  Teacher unions needed to sign off on a district’s plans for shared decision-making, and guess what?  Some decided that they wouldn’t sign off on the plan because their share wasn’t big enough.  So I’m wondering exactly how the collaboration will work on changes in teacher evaluation.

And here’s another weird twist in New York City:  officials are working to develop even more tests so there will be even more ways to determine if kids are learning. Really?  Really?  This is legitimate reform?

Anyway, the point is that including kids’ progress in a teacher’s evaluation is a good idea, one whose time has come.  But let’s make sure we know what we’re doing before we begin implementation.



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