Our evaluation proposal includes the following key components:For the full text, click here, and scroll down the right hand column to "Additional Resources."
First, every state should adopt basic professional teaching standards that districts can augment to meet specific community needs. Standards should spell out what teachers should know and be able to do. How else can we determine whether a teacher is performing as she should?
Standards for Assessing Teacher Practice
Second, to assess how well teachers meet these standards, multiple means of evaluation should be used, because teaching requires multiple skills and involves several kinds of work.
Classroom observations, self-evaluations, portfolio reviews, appraisal of lesson plans, and all the other tools we use to measure student learning—written work, performances, presentations and projects—should also be considered in these evaluations. Student test scores based on valid and reliable assessments should ALSO be considered—NOT by comparing the scores of last year’s students with the scores of this year’s students, but by assessing whether a teacher’s students show real growth while in his classroom.
Next, implementation benchmarks must be established, because even the best ideas do little more than gather dust if we don’t put them into action. Take California. It has long-standing but little-used professional standards. At the very least, principals and superintendents charged with implementing this new evaluation system need to take responsibility—and be held responsible—for making it work.
Systems of Support
Finally, because evaluation should help teachers improve throughout their careers, not just at the beginning, every district should have ways to support and nurture teacher growth. This includes solid induction, mentoring, ongoing professional development, and career opportunities that keep great teachers in the classroom.
Some quick thoughts on these ideas:
- "Assessing whether a teacher’s students show real growth while in his classroom" will require trusting educators to do most of the judging of that growth or using a lot of standardized testing to get teacher-free information.
- The notable sharp edge is in the statement "Principals and superintendents charged with implementing this new evaluation system need to take responsibility—and be held responsible—for making it work." Indeed. Writing policy is no substitute for actually implementing it.
- It's a clear outline of what a strong system needs to include.