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On Improving Teacher Evaluations

I'm a bit behind in writing up this report on teacher evaluation. But as this topic is likely to be on the national scene for a while, I expect you won't hold it against me.

The report, from the Hope Street Group, was put together with input from teachers, not just policy folks, an important thing to keep in mind as these new systems are developed. It has a great overview of the different issues at play, and ultimately, it recommends that both objective measures (value-added data, student work, teacher-generated growth goals a la Teach For America) and observational measures of classroom performance, conducted by trained instructional leaders, according to a performance-based set of measures, should make up the system.

Over at Eduflack, Patrick Riccards situated the report's recommendations within the two accountability manifestos of the Education Equity Project and "Bolder, Broader" group. I really can't improve on his analysis, so I'll just direct you there.

And the Hope Street Group is getting an extra shot in the arm now that Alice Johnson Cain, a longtime staffer for House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller D-Calif., will be heading there to work on teacher-effectiveness issues. (Having reported on AJC's boss for years, and by extention her own work, I can attest that this is a real coup for the group.)

One thing that worries me a bit, though, is that despite all these reports on teacher evaluation, there seem to be very few models that exist districtwide. (Plenty of individual schools do a good job with evaluations, but as we all know, scaling up is hard to do.) Both Cincinnati and now the District of Columbia have attempted to place a performance-based evaluation system at the center of teaching and learning, but in both cities, the effort has turned out to be controversial.

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