Linda Darling-Hammond’s new paper hands the reader many good notions
but few concrete recommendations. She explains the need for teacher
assessments but bemoans those in use in America today. As she states,
“current measures for evaluating teachers are not often linked to their
capacity to teach.” Going forward, while she claims to favor value-added
teacher assessments, she continues to push for qualitative methods
(e.g., portfolio reviews and classroom observations) to determine
teacher effectiveness—especially for beginner teachers. For those new to
the classroom, she recommends development of a national performance
assessment modeled after the National Board Teacher Certification
program, and she also wants to follow these teachers over time. Through
this early assessment and longitudinal tracking, Darling-Hammond argues,
quality and consistency of data will be enhanced, allowing districts
and school leaders to make better informed staffing decisions. While we
agree that the teacher evaluation system needs an overhaul, we’re not
convinced that Darling-Hammond’s approach is the way to do it.

Linda Darling-Hammond, “Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness: How Teacher Performance Assessments Can Measure and Improve Teaching,” (Washington, DC: Center for American Progress, October 2010).

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