Thursday, January 21, 2010

Teacher Evaluation Models

Louisiana's Race to the Top proposal includes as its core, a new teacher evalution system (See theadvocate article Race bid brings big changes). This system will be based 50% on student progress as measured by objective testing. The school principal evaluation will be based primarily on student progress. Superintendent Pastorek explained recently that Louisiana teacher and principal evaluation systems will be modeled after projects now being implemented in Hillsborro County Schools, Florida, (see their website titled Empowering Effective Teachers ) in the Memphis, Tennessee City school system, (see their website titled Memphis Teacher Effectiveness Initiative ) and in the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania school system; (see thier website titled Pittsburgh Empowering Effective Teachers ).  If your school system has signed on as a partner in Louisiana's Race to the Top proposal, you may want to review the project descriptions by simply clicking on the highlighted links. A quick review of the project descriptions reveals that all three of the performance evalution systems are still not at the full implementation stage.
Comments and Opinion: Louisiana is poised to launch yet another experiment in education reform. Unlike most experiments that are first piloted, we intend to apply it to approximately half the state's teachers even before it is tested. The models for this performance based evaluation and performance pay have not yet been shown to be effective, yet Louisiana is ready to start a major implemention effort. Just a few years ago, National Board certification of teachers was seen as the answer. Proper funding of that program has never been adequately worked out. Now we are moving on to another experiment, with no plans for how to keep funding it after the 4 years of R2T have ended. Merit pay just like any other pay increase has to be continued. If the majority of our teachers are able to meet the criteria (and they will, because our teachers are smarter than the State Dept. believes) how will the local school systems maintain funding of the program?

The problem is, the "reformers" who are pushing this latest effort have once again focused on an over-simplified approach to the problem of low student achievement. It's more politically correct to blame the teachers and school administrators than to admit that we have a community problem. Accountability has not been implemented in a manner that includes the entire community. Until we change parent and community attitudes toward education, we will continue trying to reform educators.