Update to states: do your homework on teacher evaluation

Update: Since I first posted this on Aug. 1; NBPTS has made the report public. Join the publication webcast on Monday, Oct. 3rd., 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (EDT) Register here.

I agree with recent statements by Sen. Lamar Alexander that Congress should be cautious about legislating too specifically to states how teacher evaluation programs should be designed.

But here’s a thought: Maybe the best way to figure out how to help more of our teachers become high quality would be to ask those who already are.

In response to such requests, the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) has just released: Getting It Right: A Comprehensive Guide to Developing and Sustaining Teacher Evaluation and Support Systems. It’s a concise and practical tool designed to help states and school districts develop effective teacher evaluation and support systems. Note how I worded that: We believe no teacher evaluation system can be successful or sustainable unless it is also, if not primarily, a system to support the improvement of teaching.

As we proudly note in the Getting It Right preface, “One could argue that by involving dozens of universities, research labs, scholars, teacher leaders, and premier testing organizations around the nation [for over 20 years], the National Board’s investment in developing a voluntary, advanced certification system has built the field of teacher performance assessment to which states and districts turn today.

{For the record: I earned National Board Certification, and I am currently on the Board of Directors of NBPTS.}

A truly effective teacher evaluation and support system, according to the Guide, should have four major outcomes:

  • Promote high levels of student performance
  • Improve teaching practice
  • Create more effective school environments
  • Strengthen the public’s understanding of what teachers should know and be able to do.

I would assign the members of both the House and Senate Education Committees, superintendents, union leaders, and anyone else who is truly interested in redesigning our teacher evaluation and support systems to study Getting It Right. Understanding how to approach this complex task may help identify the best roles for each of the stakeholders, including the Federal government.

Cross-posted at National Journal.com> Education Experts

Related categories: