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!

4 Replies to “Evaluation”

  1. I just completed Toch’s outstanding study and it in itself should be the “grand bargain.” Firstly, compare its detailed thoughtfulness with the huge gaps that still exist in any NCLB II proposals that I’ve read.

    Secondly, as the report notes, just implementing that report would be a huge effort, but it would provide a huge potential upside.

    Numerous times in Toch’s report, you could replace his words about the streghts and weaknesses of accountability in evaluations with the word NCLB, or vica versa,and its wisdom would stand. Logically speaking, it is hard for me to understand how people could support the ES’s paper, and still support NCLB. I understand that politics isn’t logical, but …
    After all, the real motive for the NCLB accountability scheme was predominantly the need to sound tough.

    So why not substantially replace the accountability wording of NCLB with this effort?

    Real reform requires trust. Its hard to build trust with NCLB hanging around our necks. A report as solid as Toch’s should be very helpful in building trust, including the trust that union leadership neeeds to persuade our members.

    Again, our union was pushing hard for the Toledo Plan. I think we could have overcome resistance by the central office if NCLB had not intervened.

    John Thompson

  2. That would have helped how?

    The number of veterans dismissed through the program is much smaller. In 27 years close to 100 veteran teachers out of the city’s 2,300-teacher workforce have been fired through peer review—though some failing teachers do quit
    when it’s clear they’re headed for dismissal.

    From the Ed Sector report.

  3. Reviews should be taken more seriously. Lots go unaswered, un documented un challenged

  4. This is a fabulous report. It really begs more investigation of HOW to improve teaching so that teachers can improve. And it would not cost that much to implement if the nation’s school administrators were truly instructional leaders rather than paper pushers or mere disciplinarians.

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