Tonawanda News


November 7, 2013

CEPEDA: Teacher evaluation reforms surprising


Tonawanda News — Therefore teachers think there can be no suitable evaluations — if all teachers are fundamentally good, then their craft cannot be adequately graded with even the best rubric.

Headlines about those singled out for improvement led to all teachers feeling sorely undervalued. And then there was all the news about statistics showing that only a little over a quarter of teacher-preparation programs restrict admissions to students in the top half of their class.

So in return for their many selfless sacrifices — often in communities where poverty and scant parent support makes teaching more difficult — teachers felt as though they were being unfairly painted with a broad brush of underachievement.

But as the National Council on Teacher Quality suggests, there must be rigorous annual evaluations and subsequent supports for improvement for all teachers.

“Teacher evaluation policy should reflect the purpose of helping all teachers improve, not just low-performers,” the report says. “And if teacher effectiveness evaluations aim to help all teachers get better — including going from good to great — then all teachers need feedback.”

Furthermore, the report notes, school-wide professional development must be tied to needs identified in performance evaluations for all teachers, not just those with low ratings.

This really puts a different spin on things — who wouldn’t prefer to be appraised along with peers instead of feeling like he or she has been singled out for being an “underperformer”?

But it sure won’t be easy.

Under the old standards of evaluation systems, 99 percent of teachers were routinely deemed to be “effective,” regardless of student achievement.

As the council’s report says: “Moving from a system that rates everyone as just fine to one that differentiates performance is daunting and requires a culture shift, and data from early implementers show just how hard it is. Some administrators may not yet have the skills to evaluate instruction, give constructive feedback and have hard conversations with underperformers.”

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