Using Student Performance Data in Teacher Evaluations

We are in the midst of continual and growing dissatisfaction with so many media outlets, especially due to failures to provide fact-checked, balanced journalism and more reliance on sensationalism and raw rumor to make stories.  This is especially true of the media covering public education in far too many cities, states, and towns.

A positive exception is the OpEd section of USA Today.  Each day’s major OpEd provides the “opposing view” to make sure readers have access to a view different than their editor’s.

See their OpEd printed on 3/22/12, Teacher Evaluation, once a joke, hold a key to better schools.  Link is:  http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/story/2012-03-21/teacher-evaluations-test-scores/53694328/1

I find both the USA Today as well as the opposing view to make salient, and nicely defensible positions.  There are good points we must consider in the work we are doing for our kids in classrooms across America. Can we just move on, on the argument about whether student performance data should be used in teacher evaluation, and move to how student performance data should be used.

Here is what I think we know about how to move on to common and productive ground with respect to teacher evaluation:

1. For too many years teacher evaluation has been “a joke”.  There has been lacking both candor and rigor in teacher performance data collection and feedback.

2.  There is a lot of ground to cover to ensure that student achievement data is used productively, constructively, and fairly.  Growth data is better than %-correct data.  After all, what matters most is whether a teacher or teacher team achieved with each child a year-or-more in growth for a year-in-service.

3.  Teachers must be involved in how the student performance data should be as part of the teacher (or teacher team) evaluation.

4.  Feedback for teacher development is different than evaluation for purposes of performance ratings, job continuance, and/or teacher pay-for-performance and should be treated as such.  Mixing is unfair and unproductive.

5. More fairness in teacher evaluation can be achieved my ensuring that multiple measures (of which one is student achievement).  Each multiple measure must be linked to observer and evaluator training, teacher training, and individualized teacher coaching.

What have I missed?  Are these the obvious 5 critical success factors?  How can we stop the ideological arguments and get on with what we know must be done?

JW

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