Across the country, states and districts are struggling to develop more effective systems for evaluating the work of teachers (a topic discussed often here). For those who want serious, research-based help with that endeavor, here is a great new report from Stanford, authored by Linda Darling Hammond. Creating a Comprehensive System for Evaluating and Supporting Effective Teaching, builds on what we have already learned about how to improve teacher evaluation, along with examples of existing programs that are addressing some of the most persistent obstacles.
Most important, the report recognizes that it is not enough to designate teachers as “good” or “bad,” what’s more urgent is to identify the vast majority of teachers who are good to mediocre and provide the necessary supports to help them grow professionally. Here’s a slice:
Of course, an evaluation system based on standards of professional practice must also be able to remove individuals from the profession when they do not, after receiving assistance, meet professional standards. The most long-standing evaluation systems that have successfully supported evaluation and personnel actions for both beginning and veteran teachers are those that have used Peer Assistance and Review programs that rely on highly expert mentor teachers to conduct some aspects of the evaluation an provide assistance to teachers who need it. The systems in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Toledo, Ohio; Rochester, New York; Poway and San Juan, California; Seattle, Washington have all been studied and found successful in identifying teachers for continuation and tenure as well as those needing intensive assistance and personnel action. These systems—collaborations between unions and school boards, which build in due process and assistance for teachers placed in intervention—have proven more effective than traditional evaluation systems at both improving and efficiently dismissing teachers while avoiding union grievances.(32-33)