Professional Development

Reports: Don’t Forget Professional Development in Evaluation

By Stephen Sawchuk — January 24, 2012 1 min read
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A pair of new reports outlines how districts can think about using revised teacher evaluation systems to improve the quality of the teaching force.

The subtext in both reports: It isn’t enough to just hire and fire your way to a better teaching corps. Teaching quality should be looked upon as a mutable characteristic that most teachers can and should strive to improve, with the proper supports.

First up is Craig Jerald’s paper for the Center on American Progress. In the paper, he outlines two main thrusts of the evaluation system: One focused on recruiting effective teachers and dismissing poor ones, and the other for using on-the-job training to help each teacher improve his or her skills. (I’ve written about this tension between “summative” and “formative” purposes of evaluations on this blog, too.)

Policymakers arguably have spent too much time on the first point and not enough time on making sure the second element works well, Jerald writes. He outlines some of the latest high-quality research on professional development and suggests ways districts might think about to link these two functions.

Second is the Aspen Institute’s Rachel Curtis and Ross Weiner, withthis report.

It’s probably better described as a template or workbook of sorts, as it asks lots of questions that districts can use to determine who should be involved in setting up the systems, how the goals of the system should be communicated to the pubic, and so forth. Again, though, the focus is on improving teacher skill. From the introduction:

"[T]his guide is organized to help school systems develop evaluation systems that foster
professional growth and improved teacher practice. Meeting this goal cannot be done at the expense of accountability or other goals, but it is done with the understanding that supporting teacher growth and development is the primary purpose to which other
goals must align.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.