By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki
Are teacher evaluations useful, or even necessary? Do some methods affect “good” teachers in a bad way, and perhaps reward “bad” teachers in a good way? For example, some teachers in Florida are evaluated on student test scores in subjects they do not even teach, which could mean that an Art or PE teacher would have his/her value or rating based on their students’ English and math scores!
Every state is figuring out how to conduct evaluations to ensure learning. Clearly, there’s no single, best answer.
Most evaluations today are based on test scores and classroom observations. The problem with student test scores is that teachers with students at higher achievement levels tend to fare better. Yet despite all the furor over test score gains, a report from The Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution found only 22 percent of teachers are evaluated on test score gains. On the other hand, all teachers are evaluated based on classroom observation and that “nearly all the opportunities for improvement to teacher evaluation systems are in the area of classroom observations rather than in test score gains.”
Then again, what decides a teacher’s effectiveness? While teachers must be experts in their subject area, they must also be able to share that knowledge in an interesting, memorable and engaging way. But how do we factor in other qualities that make for an effective teacher like patience, empathy, and commitment?
We need to continue to assess the way we currently evaluate teachers and figure out how and where improvements can be made. Do you have an innovative idea to share in this area?