ES’ Tom Toch and Annenberg’s Bob Rothman have a new paper on teacher evaluation out today. Spells out the lay of the land, state of play, and looks at some popular ideas out there now (NBPTS, TAP, CT’s BEST initiative, and Toledo Peer Review). Big takeaway: Evaluation is a big missing piece of the human capital puzzle right now and there are some ideas out there about strategies for doing it better.
Seems to me that the holy grail in this area still remains a system that can effectively differentiate teachers in the vast middle. In other words those that are not either consistently low or consistently high performers. Or, put another way, most of the people in any field. The examples that Toch and Rothman describe, for instance National Board or Toledo Peer Review seem to raise serious cost-benefit questions and do seem to achieve goals that could not be achieved at much lower cost. But it also seems that what we need are different evaluation systems at different points in a teachers’ career and that is where the investment to benefit ratio becomes a lot clearer. A system that could really differentiate talent and help teachers grow in that vast middle would be a worthy investment and would likely have to incorporate many of the ideas that Toch and Rothman lay out.
How to pay for all of this? Of course, a grand bargain!