In a just-released paper, The New Teacher Project proposes new standards for teacher evaluation.
WASHINGTON—The New Teacher Project’s new work on teacher evaluation systems is very much in line with the evaluation work being done by the AFT, and by our affiliates working with school administrators in New Haven, Conn., Rochester, N.Y., Pittsburgh and many other school districts.
The New Teacher Project acknowledges that one focus of any evaluation system must be to develop great teaching. As the AFT has consistently said, evaluations must be more than a “gotcha” process to single out struggling teachers. Evaluation systems must be linked to strong professional development that envisions continuing improvement for all teachers.
The Project’s guidelines also call for the use of multiple measures of teacher practice and student learning. While we welcome this willingness to move beyond test scores in measuring achievement, we are very concerned that the guidelines place too much emphasis on test scores, both as a proxy for student learning and as a measure of teacher practice. The AFT believes that basing 60 to 70 percent of a teacher’s rating solely on test scores puts too much weight on such data. School districts should not assign a particular percentage to any aspect of teacher evaluation until the specific measures have been collaboratively developed and tried. Setting percentages before we have identified the best measures for teaching is educationally unsound.
The AFT supports a continuous improvement model for teacher development and evaluation. The goal is to have evidence-based evaluations that take into account the complex skills and knowledge that the teaching profession demands. Since we introduced this model in January, more than 50 AFT local unions have been working in collaboration with their school administrators on their versions of it. Our approach includes regular, rigorous reviews by trained evaluators based on professional teaching standards, best practices and multiple measures of effectiveness, including student achievement. The goal is to help promising teachers improve, enable good teachers to become great, and identify those teachers who shouldn’t be in the classroom at all.