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The New Teacher Project's Evaluation Standards Mirror Rhee's

The teacher evaluation debate continues, with about the only thing everyone agreeing upon is that the current system is useless.

Last week, The New Teacher Project published a report titled "Teacher Evaluation 2.0," laying out its guidelines for designing systems to properly determine how teachers are serving our kids.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that the organization's founder is Michelle Rhee (the outspoken, and likely outgoing, D.C. schools chancellor) the six pillars the report holds up strongly parallel the IMPACT performance assessment that Rhee implemented in her district last year. It included performance bonuses for those teachers deemed most effective and resulted in the firing of 241 teachers who were found to be ineffective (the bottom 5 percent).

As with IMPACT, TNTP standards suggests counting value-added data from year-to-year standardized test scores, when its available, for 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation. The rest of a teacher's assessment would be made up of classroom observations (30 percent) and alternative measures of student learning, like "progress toward Individual Education Plan goals, district-wide or teacher-generated assessments, and end-of-course tests" (20 percent). (When value-added data is not available, TNTP suggests weighting classroom observation by 40 percent and measures of student improvement for 60 percent.)

Whereas states such as Tennessee and Louisiana are also using value-added data for 50 percent of teacher evaluation, other schools districts, like L.A., plan to use it, but make it less impactful. Merryl Tisch, the chancellor of the New York State Education Department's Board of Regents, told a group of education reporters two weeks ago that value-added measures were not "ready for primetime" in New York.

Value-added data is merely a sub-component of one of TNTP's evaluation system guidelines. The six tenets are: evaluations should happen at the very least annually; the standards that teachers will be held to should be clearly and explicitly spelled out; instructors should be evaluated via multiple factors; ratings should come in four to five levels (as opposed to simply "satisfactory" and "unsatisfactory); and the ratings should be significant, bearing on whether a teacher gets tenure, their salary, and employment decisions.

When it comes to teacher evaluation, about the only thing everyone agrees upon is that the current system is useless. Given the contentiousness that surrounded Rhee's IMPACT program, TNTP's guidelines are unlikely to find wide acceptance, especially from teachers' unions. Some of the language in the report, however, seems earnestly targeted at the benefit that teachers would get from knowing how they're performing:

Annual evaluation is the only way to ensure that all teachers—regardless of their ability level or years of experience—get the ongoing feedback on their performance that all professionals deserve. This approach recognizes that a teacher’s effectiveness and developmental needs may change over time, and it sends a message to school leaders that they are accountable for helping all their teachers grow as professionals.
But, with possibly harsh penalties being tied to these systems—especially with the jury on the validity of value-added still being out—future evaluation systems will likely stray quite a bit from this template.
Via This Week in Education; Photo (cc) via Flickr user Whiskeygonebad.\n

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