Thursday, July 21, 2011

So New York City's 1700 school's are reshaping how they evaluate their teachers. This is a great start. All teachers in the struggling schools — schools with low graduation rates and low student test scores — will be rated annually as either ineffective, developing, effective or highly effective. In the current system, in place for decades, teachers have been rated simply satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

What they haven't sorted out yet is what the criteria for the four tiers will be. Will they use test scores? Who decides what "effective" or "highly effective" means

I have posted before about using a holistic, 360 degree approach to evaluating teachers. I have a personal interest in this topic for a number of reasons.

First - I am a teacher. I am a professional. I want to be perceived, evaluated and treated like a professional. In my past career (high tech management), a set of subjective and objective criteria were used to evaluate my performance. I did not expect my teaching performance to be evaluated any other way.

Secondly, as a relative newcomer to teaching, I am laid off every year, while teachers with seniority are not. I am a really good teacher. I am creative, compassionate, diligent and a leader. With every year I teach, I do get better. But time and experience are not the only things that make me a good teacher. We read about teachers who stay teaching because "they don't know what else to do". They may not be good teachers, but they get to stay. There are teachers in the classroom who do not want to be there. I want to be in the classroom and I don't get to be. So my second reason for having an interest in evaluation methods is that perhaps if we had a more rigorous method for evaluating teachers, more teachers who should be teaching will continue to teach and teachers who shouldn't be teaching will be finding what else they can do.

Finally, as a tax payer, I want to know that public schools are held accountable for providing the best education they can. Having properly evaluated teachers will help insure this.

I am still not sure how best to 'properly evaluate', but I glad to know that school districts, unions and community leaders are working on this.

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