Why Meaningful Teacher Evaluation Matters: Local Edition

I found it strange that a story in the Providence Journal on stimulus funds for education made no mention of the possibility of winning competitive funds. Then I saw their other big education story of the day. I’ve participated in providing testimony for education lawsuits in multiple states, but I still have questions about the legal process. In a lawsuit such as this, how does our societal obligation to provide students with the best possible education get weighed in with the legal obligations of NCLB, state law, collective bargaining agreements, etc?

Guestblogger Celine Coggins, Founder of Teach Plus

3 Replies to “Why Meaningful Teacher Evaluation Matters: Local Edition”

  1. I suspect there’s a reasonable grand bargain out there splitting the labor market for teachers into an experienced- and inexperienced-teacher set of slots. The closest thing to a consensus among researchers in teaching is that at least a few years of experience matters a great deal, and I’m hesitant to believe that principals’ seat-of-the-pants judgment on bright-eyed, bushy-tailed newbies is somehow going to be good next year though it hasn’t been great in the past.

    How to operationalize such a split is hard: how do you decide which schools get to hire more-experienced faculty (with principal choice) and which have to enter a lottery for first-year, second-year, and third-year teachers? Well, that may be one way of addressing the comparability debate in Title I, but it’s much easier with elementary schools than when you have subject specializations.

    I know: I’ve mostly skipped the legal question. The general answer I’ve been told as a union chapter leader is that there are some mandatory subjects of bargaining (defined within each state somewhat differently outside issues of pay, benefits, discipline, and a range of other matters), and when an issue is a management right, there is still a right to bargain the impact of a management decision. Easy example: a school district in Florida can set its school hours as it wants, but the duty hours for teachers (affected by such a decision) are a matter of collective bargaining.

  2. Slightly off-topic, and with no offense to the person posting this – but I am so incredibly tired of words like “meaningful” in the discussion about education. We don’t just have teachers; we have “caring” teachers. Lesson plans are “engaging” lesson plans. Can’t we just drop these? Can’t we just assume that evaluation is supposed to be meaningful, and that adults in education are caring? Why do we have to highlight this?

  3. We need “meaningful” as a modifier here because it has been well established that the current system of evaluation does not tell us nearly enough about teachers’ effectiveness with students. We have evaluation, but we don’t have meaningful evaluation. See http://www.widgeteffect.org.

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