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A Teenager Fights Back Against Teacher Evaluation Gone Wrong

Teen Nikhil Goyal refused to participate in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's teacher evaluation scheme.


In February 2012, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, after a lengthy feud with the state teachers union, came to an agreement over a comprehensive teacher evaluation system for the state. The arrangement made New York State eligible to receive $700 million of "Race to the Top" funds, a national sweepstakes spearheaded by President Obama that allocated monies to states that adopted his education policies.

Under the new system known as the Annual Professional Performance Review, 40 percent of a teacher's evaluation would be based on standardized test scores, while the remaining 60 percent would be based on subjective measurements, like classroom observations and student surveys. Then, teachers would be sorted into four categories: ineffective, developing, effective, or highly effective.

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Data King Nate Silver Isn't Sold on Evaluating Teachers With Test Scores

In a Reddit AMA, Silver expresses his concern about the practice.


Over the past few years one of the most controversial topics in education reform has been measuring teacher effectiveness with standardized tests. Well, on Tuesday, the Jon Stewart-dubbed "Lord and God of the Algorithm," Nate Silver, participated in a Reddit AMA and the top question tackled the issue head-on.

Indeed, user GrEvTh asked Silver, "What are your thoughts on data-driven metrics for teacher evaluation? Do you think a system that accurately reflects teacher value could ever be created, or will it always be plagued by perverse incentives (teaching to the test, neglecting certain types of students, etc)?"

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The Kind of Evaluation that Matters Most to Teachers

Unless you spend time in a school, you don't really know how tough a public school teacher's job really is.


Debates over how teachers should be evaluated have been at the forefront of the Chicago teachers strike and a part of the national education reform conversation.

At the end of the day on the second day of school, September 5, one of my students, Veronica, pulled my arm down so she could whisper something in my ear. She told me, "Mr. Sajous-Brady, you're the best third-grade teacher in Illinois." As someone who has spent over 17 years in classrooms—with the last 12-plus being in a neighborhood Chicago Public School—I've been able to recognize and deeply appreciate the honor that comes with this sort of praise from 8-year-olds.

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How to Turn a School System Around

A McKinsey report offers trends used by school systems that are steadily showing improvement.

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What About Principal Evaluations?

Teacher evaluation is a hot topic in education reform circles. What about evaluating their bosses?


New York City is currently enmeshed in a debate over whether it should release ratings of 12,000 of its teachers, as The Los Angeles Times did on behalf (or in spite of) the Los Angeles Unified School District back in August. Teacher evaluation has been a hot topic in the last year or so, but one topic that is discussed far less is how school systems should conduct principal evaluations.

In September, a nonprofit called New Leaders for New Schools, which recruits and trains people to lead schools in urban settings, issued its recommendations for evaluating principals. Whereas teachers can be evaluated based on their impact on students, measured through test scores—controversially, of course—judging the effectiveness of principals is more difficult, as the decisions they make can have sometimes subtle (but systemic) impacts on a school.

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