Teaching Profession

UPDATED: AFT Chief Talks Teacher Evaluations

By Stephen Sawchuk — July 09, 2010 1 min read
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American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten had a sit-down chat with reporters after her keynote address to the AFT convention Thursday, and there was some in-depth discussion about what’s probably the top teacher-quality issue on the table today: evaluation.

AFT officials have said for a while now that over 50 locals are piloting teacher-evaluation systems based on a framework developed by the union. I asked about these districts’ progress in implementing the plans.

Some of them, like Pittsburgh, New Haven, Conn., and apparently now Cleveland, have put evaluations at the center of newly inked contracts, while others are just getting started in development, Weingarten and other AFT officials said. They added that 21 districts and unions met in Minnesota and are in various stages of implementing systems based on the framework. Most sites aren’t public yet as officials are still working to hammer out details, so this is something to keep your eyes on.

One reporter asked Weingarten whether, in her view, “multiple measures” of teacher performance included student outcomes beyond standardized test scores. Her answer was an unabashed yes, and she cited things such as written work, portfolios, teacher-designed assessments, and so forth. (If you’re wondering what this might look like in practice, consider what Teach For America does to judge its candidates’ classroom success.)

And for those of you curious as to what the AFT evaluation framework looks like, here’s a rundown: In addition to professional teaching standards and measures of student outcomes, AFT wants to see that such systems are correctly implemented by trained evaluators, require administrators to address working conditions, and include systems of support, including time for teachers to work with colleagues or peer-assistance and review for struggling teachers.

UPDATE (7/9,1:53 pm) AFT helpfully provided this link to a more in-depth description of the framework.

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

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