Thursday, September 13, 2012

Evaluating Teachers

Considering the timing with the National Education Blueprint coming out two days ago, the following article’s pretty much on the money. No comments from me, just wanted to share – hit the link for the full monty:

We Evaluate Doctors. Why Not Chicago Teachers?

Can teacher evaluations be done horribly wrong? Of course. Evaluating teachers solely on the basis of their students’ scores on standardized tests can accidentally penalize good teachers while rewarding bad ones. It also gives teachers a strong incentive to teach to the test, which encourages what New York educator Kate McKeown calls RAMIT: “regurgitate, acculturate, memorize, isolate, and threaten.”

But to say that evaluation can be done wrong is not to say it should never be attempted. We evaluate doctors. Why not Chicago teachers?…

…New research funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and others shows that teacher evaluation can improve learning when it is done intelligently. That means supplementing test scores with seasoned judgment from independent evaluators and providing teachers with detailed, personalized feedback that they can use to do their jobs better.

The Christian Science Monitor highlighted the new findings in an excellent article last month by staff writer Amanda Paulson called “Back to school: How to measure a good teacher.”

The Gates Foundation’s Measures of Effective Teaching study found that the most important elements in an evaluation are detailed observations of a teacher’s performance, test scores that try to isolate the teacher’s contribution, and surprisingly, students’ own ratings of their teachers on how well they support students, challenge them, and give feedback, Paulson writes…

…Chicago school negotiators originally wanted student scores to count for 45 percent of teacher evaluations. The teachers bargained that down to 25 percent, Tim Knowles, director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute, told the AP. The percentages and the timing are still in contention. Is Chicago’s evaluation system perfect? Probably not. But it has to be better than one that found 99.7 percent of Chicago teachers are doing a satisfactory to distinguished job.

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