Teaching Profession Opinion

Teacher Legislation Scorecard: How Can States Make Teacher Effectiveness Laws Better?

By Sara Mead — August 10, 2011 1 min read

As I mentioned yesterday, one of the purposes of Bellwether’s recent analysis of recent teacher effectiveness legislation in 5 states is to highlight ways these states--all of which have made significant progress to improve their policies related to teacher effectiveness--could make their laws even better. So over the next few days, I’ll be highlighting a few key things states could do to improve on recently passed teacher effectiveness legislation. (Legislators in other states, take note, too: You also have an opportunity to include these things from the get-go in future teacher effectiveness legislation). Let’s start with transparency and reporting:

Provide transparent information about teacher effectiveness to parents and the public. If states and school districts are going to the trouble of evaluating teachers, we should be making use of that information--not just for key personnel decisions, but also to help inform parents, policymakers, and the general public about the effectiveness of their child’s/school’s/state’s teachers. That doesn’t necessarily mean that individual teacher ratings should be publicly reported--even most public sector workers don’t have their annual personnel evaluations made public to the world. But states should, at a minimum, ensure regular reporting of aggregated information on the percentage of teachers in every school, district, and the state as a whole who are performing at various levels of effectiveness. In addition, prospective employers, policymakers, and prospective students should be able to find information on the average and aggregate effectiveness of each teacher preparation program’s graduates. Although this is somewhat more controversial, there’s also a strong case to be made that parents should be able to find information on the effectiveness of their children’s teachers--or at least should be able to find out if their child is being taught by an ineffective teacher. Indiana’s law contains good provisions on public reporting of teacher effectiveness data--but most of the laws we reviewed do not. Illinois does not permit the public disclosure of an individual teacher’s rating--even to parents.

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The opinions expressed in Sara Mead’s Policy Notebook are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.