That’s a big change from the longstanding evaluation based mainly on observation of a teacher (and surely student success). For principals, the other half of their evaluation will include observation, progress in closing the gap in achievement between student groups and retaining effective teachers. Student achievement will be measured by the state’s end-of-course tests and the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.
Teachers will get one of four ratings: exemplary, proficient, needs improvement or ineffective. There are several moving parts to the evaluation process ranging from “formative observations” to “student perception surveys” and teachers’ documentation.
It’s all about holding teachers accountable. Just hold their feet to the fire with new evaluations based 50 percent on how students perform, the thinking goes, and teachers will either pull their students up to grade level or be fired. But there’s no guarantee this latest system will be the panacea our education officials keep looking for.
For example, test-based accountability does not work, according to a longtime leader in the standards-driven education reform movement, Marc Tucker, president and CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy.
“Test-based accountability has been tried and it has failed,” Tucker wrote for Education Week recently. He cited data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress showing that “after 10 years of federal education policies based on test-based accountability, there has been no perceptible improvement in student performance among high school students as a whole, or when the data are broken down by different groupings of disadvantaged students.”
Tucker said there’s little doubt that test-based accountability being used to hold schools or individual teachers accountable “has failed to improve student performance. That should be enough to abandon it. But it is not. The damage that test-based accountability has done goes far deeper than a missed opportunity to improve student achievement. It is doing untold damage to the profession of teaching.”
Thus, many widely admired teachers are giving up the profession, he said: “They describe what they are experiencing as a process in which, piece by piece, they are being told what to do and how to do it by people who are not teachers and have little respect for teachers or the work that teachers do.
“They see policymakers embracing one nostrum after another that their own professional experience tells them will not work. They know that the real motivation behind the vogue for teacher evaluation is to fire teachers who are deemed to add insufficient value to a student’s education, but they think that tests used for that purpose measure very little of what they think a good education is and even less of what a good teacher does for the students under his or her care.”
Based on my observations and experience with good teachers, he’s right on.