Today’s NYT has a look at the new teacher evaluation system in D.C. Three things jump out.
Landscape. The headline is “Pass or Be Fired.” But, while that is the choice in some places – and teacher are understandably resentful – is that really the choice in D.C.? The evaluation system is part of a revised compensation that offers teachers the chance to earn substantially more for performance, challenging assignments, and so forth. So the overall deal is more – demand more and pay more – than just pass or lose your job.
Context. This passage is interesting. ““I’m 25 years in the system, and before, I always got outstanding ratings,” she said. “How can you go overnight from outstanding to minimally effective?”” Good question! Perhaps this is where you key readers in that everyone was rated outstanding before yet somehow the kids were not learning very much? It’s not a theoretical question, there is data on multiple school systems and this is why as part of the 2009 Recovery Act the feds started collecting data on evaluation outcomes.
Process. In education we always fight about process…Here’s the kicker:
“Some teachers feel the master educators are out to get them.” That is a common perception, said Mark Simon, an education analyst for the Economic Policy Institute, which receives teachers’ union financing. Ms. Rhee developed the system, he noted, during tough contract negotiations and did not consult with the teachers’ union in its design. “That was a missed opportunity,” Mr. Simon said, “and it’s created a lot of resentment.”
Well, the union did ratify the contract that included all this –including decoupling evaluation from the contract. They did so overwhelmingly it should be noted. Might also be good to note that Simon was a teachers union leader, leader as in president, of the union right next door to D.C. in Montgomery County. There is some sibling rivalry here…especially around the issue of “collaboration.” But all that not withstanding, at what point should we just start looking at the evaluation system on its merits (certain aspects of which are debatable it should be noted)?