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Report: Survey Teachers, Not Just Students, on Evaluations

By guest blogger Alyssa Morones

There's no question that teachers are unnerved, even suspicious, about the purpose behind the rapid proliferation of tougher new teacher evaluation systems. What's the best way to get them to value these evaluations, or at least not see them as punitive?

A new report from the Aspen Institute offers one idea: Surveying teachers about whether the new systems are being used to support and strengthen their teaching.

The group reviewed the use of employee feedback by high-performing education systems, including Aspire Public Schools, which embrace surveys to gauge employee satisfaction with its organizational structure, as well as private-sector companies, including Apple and Mercedes-Benz. Both of these corporations value surveys as a tool to regularly gather feedback and implement changes.

"Organizations with high levels of employee engagement have larger talent pools, lower turnover, and better financial performance," it states.

But historically, the report points out, the results from teacher evaluations "have not been used strategically to build employee engagement or create reciprocal accountability between principals and teachers."

Aspen's idea is to use teacher surveys to get a sense of whether—and how well—the evaluation process' formative goals are being met.
For example, after teachers undergo the evaluation process, surveys would then ask if the teachers if they received actionable guidance or resources to improve their performance.

(One wonders after reading this report if the lawsuit over evaluations in Florida might have been avoided with more teacher feedback.)

The report outlines a list of benefits of using surveys. It says they could:

•Capture stakeholder feedback in a relatively quick and cost-effective way;
•Increase teachers' engagement in the evaluation process;
•Allow teacher growth and development to be explicitly valued; and
•Promote a health school culture if they are used appropriately.

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