School & District Management

Principals Balk at Stepped-Up Demands for Teacher Evaluations

By Christina A. Samuels — January 27, 2012 1 min read
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The federal Race to the Top competition rewarded states for tying teacher evaluations to student performance, a movement that has been picked up by other school reform advocates.

But some principals are saying that these sorts of evaluation systems are creating a tremendous workload—and there’s no proof that it is creating better teachers. From a story in the Christian Science Monitor:

Sharon McNary believes in having tough teacher evaluations. But these days, the Memphis principal finds herself rushing to cram in what amounts to 20 times the number of observations previously required for veteran teachers—including those she knows are excellent—sometimes to the detriment of her other duties. “I don’t think there’s a principal that would say they don’t agree we don’t need a more rigorous evaluation system,” says Ms. McNary, who is president of the Tennessee Principals Association as well as principal at Richland Elementary. “But now it seems that we’ve gone to [the opposite] extreme.” In New York, which is also beginning to implement a new teacher evaluation system this year, many principals are even less constrained in their opinion. “There is no evidence that any of this works,” says Carol Burris, a Long Island principal who co-authored an open letter of concern with more than 1,200 other principals in the state. “Our worry is that over time these practices are going to hurt kids and destroy the positive culture of our schools.”

The New York Times explored the same issue in a November article, also using Tennessee as an example. Tennessee comes up often in these articles because along with Delaware, it was one of the first Race to the Top states. (I wrote a story about Memphis’ teacher evaluation system in November.)

I’m curious to hear from other school leaders who are in states or districts that are implementing these reforms. Are you given enough time to perform evaluations on your teachers? Are these processes useful?

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.