The nation’s state superintendents are trying to send the message that, even though there are no longer any federal requirements for teacher evaluation, states aren’t abandoning their commitment to review their teachers on a regular basis.
“A question I get asked by reporters is, ‘Aren’t states just going to back away from teacher evaluations [post No Child Left Behind]?’, and my answer is ‘No,’ ” said Chris Minnich, the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers in a press call with reporters. But in the future, states must emphasize teacher development, he said: “These systems had a tendency to err more on the evaluation side than the support side.”
And so in a document released March 1, the CCSSO lists a set of principles for teacher evaluation.
Teacher evaluation, the chiefs say, should be linked to broader efforts to improve teaching, such as by connecting the feed back teachers receive directly to the standards and curricula they have to teach. They should be geared to improving teacher practice, by serving as the foundation of professional development. And they should be fair, credible, and transparent, achieved by engaging educators in the refinement of the system, the use of multiple measures, and communicating the purpose of evaluations to parents and teachers.
The CCSSO says evaluations should also be connected to and inform “every component of the talent development system, including preparation, hiring, induction, and retention. Results should inform individual coaching, professional learning, assignment, tenure, career advancement, and teacher leadership opportunities.”
“What we’ve found is that through our experience [with the NCLB waivers], we have had some unintended outcomes,” said Virginia Superintendent Steven Staples. “The biggest one is that there’s an over-reliance on a single measure; too many of our divisions defaulted to the statewide standardized test ... and their feedback was that because that was a focus [of the federal government], they felt they needed to emphasize that, ignoring some other factors. It also drove a real emphasis on a summative, final evaluation. And it resulted in our best teachers running away from our most challenged schools.”
Staples said the state is looking to refine the way it incorporates student growth into teacher evaluation, away from crude measures like “student growth percentiles” and toward more sophisticated approaches.
Virginia Superintendent Steven Staples, at right, is eyeing ways to improve teacher evaluation in the state. Photo courtesy Virginia Department of Education
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.