Teacher evaluations should not be watered down
DFER's head of teacher advocacy, Jocelyn Huber, with an article calling on Tennessee not to water down the teacher evaluation program it promised as part of its winning Race to the Top application:
as Tennessee begins to put the new system into place, the strength of the evaluation model is in jeopardy. Weakening the strong framework by watering it down or delaying its implementation would be a tremendous disservice to Tennessee's children, teachers and principals.
Tennessee's evaluation system is designed to broadly improve and maintain teacher quality. It specifically outlines the process by which local districts assess teachers and principals, which includes five effectiveness categories and the requirement that 50 percent of the criteria be based on student achievement. That means teachers and principals are responsible for success of their students.
The benefits of the system for children are obvious; better teachers mean better education. However, what has often been overlooked during policy debates in Tennessee and elsewhere in the country are the benefits for teachers and principals. Every outstanding educator deserves to be treated like a professional and rewarded for his or her hard work and excellence. A strong evaluation system allows school districts to identify, reward, and support strong teachers, aid those who are struggling, and replace those who are consistently letting our children down.
Democrats for Education Reform recently released a report ranking new state teacher evaluation systems. Of the 19 states included in the report, Tennessee came out on top in the teacher rating and performance measures category. The state will move the needle in the right direction considerably if, and only if, it's implemented effectively.