The Times' Room for Debate blog tackles teacher evaluations today, in particular the news that New York City plans to introduce a dozen new tests in order to gather data for said evaluations. Participants include Linda Darling-Hammond, Kevin Carey, Marcus Winters, and yours truly, among others. Here's my submission; read the whole package here. [quote]
Improving teacher evaluations is one of the most important reforms encouraged by the federal ?Race to the Top? initiative ? and one of the central components to making our schools better. No one can defend today's evaluation systems which, by and large, find every teacher to be above average (if not superior) even as our student achievement results lag our international competitors.
If pay and employment decisions are to be based on teacher performance, at least in part, we need evaluations that can stand up to scrutiny (and to lawsuits). Simply put, we won't make much progress in terminating our least effective teachers (either for cause or because of budget pressures) until we have evaluation systems that are fair, trustworthy and rigorous. And it's only common sense that one element of those evaluations should be an assessment of how much students are learning under the teacher's charge.
However, there's a real downside in moving to centralized, rules-based, bureaucratic evaluation models, as indicated by New York City's decision to add a dozen new tests to collect more teacher performance data. I feel for the city; if you...