Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Levin and Daly on Teacher Evaluations

KIPP’s David Levin and NLNS’s Tim Daly on what good teacher evaluations look like:

Faced with a Jan. 17 deadline, New York City may soon have a new teacher evaluation system to help identify those educators who are excelling and those who need extra support. This focus on teacher performance and accountability is essential.

But evaluation alone doesn’t make teachers better. It is what school leaders do with that information to provide educators with better training that will make the difference. We must concentrate our efforts in this area now. If not, we risk having an evaluation system that prioritizes accountability but leaves teachers without the support they need to grow and improve.

Teaching is not a single body of knowledge. There are fundamentals that every teacher needs to master: how to build relationships with students and families, how to manage a classroom, how to organize time and lessons, how to set clear academic expectations. But that simply isn’t enough.

Too often, once teachers have a solid grasp of basic classroom practice, investment in their development stops — because they are seen, prematurely, as holding a complete skill set. Research tends to show that many teachers improve in their early years but then plateau. Top-performing teachers receive less and less development even as they crave more.

Today, districts and principals invest heavily in training but teachers routinely report finding these efforts generic and disconnected from their classroom experiences. Moreover, there is little evidence that much of today’s training improves teaching quality or raises student achievement.
That’s why an increasing number of organizations, including the two we lead, are focusing on the continuing education of our teachers.

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