Improving Teacher Quality by Improving Evaluation

This past Sunday, the Denver Post published an article called “Schools focus on teaching quality as they seek funding,” by Karen Auge. Her piece provided an interesting perspective on teacher evaluation. The following are some quotes from the article:

• “Improving teacher assessment is a primary goal of the governor’s 15-member Council on Educator Effectiveness, which held its first meeting Thursday. The good news is that everyone, from union leaders to lawmakers, agrees Colorado’s existing evaluation system needs an overhaul and that student performance should be a part of any new system.”

• “‘We want quality evaluations. Every teacher wants the teacher next door and the teacher who sends kids from last year to their class to be doing a good job,’ [CEA spokesperson Deborah] Fallin said.”

• “‘Research now is extremely clear: The most important factor in a student’s education is the quality of the teacher,’ said Tom Boasberg, superintendent of Denver Public Schools.”

• “The things she [Jana Thomas – fourth-grade science teacher] learned in teacher-education classes had value…But her real education came courtesy of other teachers. ‘Who your mentors are is huge,’ she said.”

Effective evaluation systems are an important part of how we ensure a quality teacher in every classroom. We believe Colorado must have an evaluation system that is:
• Consistent
• Fair
• Objective and
• Directed at improvement.

We encourage you to read the article. If you want to share your observations on our blog, we encourage you to do so.

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5 Responses

  1. I do feel that teachers want an overhaul of the evaluation system. I wonder though, what makes building administrators the experts on quality teaching? I would like to see some sort of peer evaluation system in which master teachers, as part of a team along with administrators, evaluate others. I think we need to be less paranoid about having people visit our classrooms to see what we are doing on a regular basis. Being observed once or twice a year does not give a true indication of how well a teacher is performing everyday.

  2. I agree with you, Mike, and that’s what I’m trying to push at DPS as a solution to the “direct placement” issue. I also would like to see more real-time data, like benchmarks, being incorporated into the evaluation. We have to stop depending on data that comes too late to make a difference and on sporadic evaluations. I’m a big supporter of master teachers as permanent fixtures in schools, especially where there’s a preponderance of Title I kids.

  3. I feel that benchmark data is a good tool, but I think we need to develop a system in which the students are more accountable for their performance on these tests. Many of the students don’t feel compelled to want to do well on benchmarks or CSAP tests.

  4. Since having left my comment, I’ve since gobbled up Diane Ravitch’s new book on high-stakes testing and NCLB. I think the issue here is that the whole test-prep environment we’ve set up is counter-intuitive to a child’s natural thirst for knowledge. They don’t want to do well because it’s not fun or interesting to them.

    Further, I’m less inclined to use this data AT ALL when evaluating teachers. I would much rather see us move to an oral exam or project based exam scenario, in which we judge the depth of knowledge a child has on a given subject matter. THEN we can start talking about whether a teacher is doing a good job.

  5. Andrea, thanks for your comment. Diane Ravitch is in Denver this week to speak out against SB 191 – we’ll have a post up later today or tomorrow. Thanks for your support and for staying involved!

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