On Teacher Evaluation: Slow Down And Get It Right

One of the primary policy levers now being employed in states and districts nationwide is teacher evaluation reform. Well-designed evaluations, which should include measures that capture both teacher practice and student learning, have great potential to inform and improve the performance of teachers and, thus, students. Furthermore, most everyone agrees that the previous systems were largely pro forma, failed to provide useful feedback, and needed replacement.

The attitude among many policymakers and advocates is that we must implement these systems and begin using them rapidly for decisions about teachers, while design flaws can be fixed later. Such urgency is undoubtedly influenced by the history of slow, incremental progress in education policy. However, we believe this attitude to be imprudent.

The risks to excessive haste are likely higher than whatever opportunity costs would be incurred by proceeding more cautiously. Moving too quickly gives policymakers and educators less time to devise and test the new systems, and to become familiar with how they work and the results they provide.

Moreover, careless rushing may result in avoidable erroneous high stakes decisions about individual teachers. Such decisions are harmful to the profession, they threaten the credibility of the evaluations, and they may well promote widespread backlash (such as the recent Florida lawsuits and the growing “opt-out” movement). Making things worse, the opposition will likely “spill over” into other promising policies, such as the already-fragile effort to enact the Common Core standards and aligned assessments.

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NCLB’s 10th Anniversary No Cause For Celebration

Via NEA, to mark today being the 10th anniversary of No Child Left Behind.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was signed into law by former President George W. Bush 10 years ago this Sunday. NCLB changed the focus of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), from emphasizing equal access and closing achievement gaps in education, to focusing on high stakes testing, labeling, and sanctions.

NEA believes the 10th anniversary of NCLB is no cause for celebration and that drastic changes should be made before students and educators are forced to mark yet another anniversary living with this flawed law.

“I meet with thousands of educators as I travel around the country, and the concern I hear most often is the overwhelming burden NCLB presents in classrooms and schools,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “From high-stakes testing to narrowing of the curriculum, this law has missed the mark. Instead of creating a generation of critical thinkers, we are graduating a generation of test takers. Let’s get back to the core purpose of public education and let’s re-balance the federal role: ensuring every student has access to a great education that prepares them for lifelong learning and success in the 21st century.”

School progress cannot accurately be measured by a snapshot of test scores from one test, given on one day in the school year. These high-stakes tests are leaving behind too many students. As members of Congress prepare to consider reauthorization this year, NEA is urging them to get it right this time by listening to those affected most by the law—students, teachers and parents.

NEA’s priorities for ESEA reauthorization are:

  • Promote innovation, high expectations, and encourage development of 21st century skills in public schools.
  • End the obsession with high-stakes, poor-quality tests, by developing high-quality assessment systems that provide multiple ways for students to demonstrate what they have learned.
  • Provide great educators and school leaders for every student.
  • Promote public education as a shared responsibility of parents, students, educators, and policymakers.
  • Provide increased funding to all states and school districts to meet the growing demand for educating U.S. students to be globally-competitive.

“The time and funds spent on complying with NCLB red tape should be used to promote teacher collaboration, identifying and addressing students’ individual needs and restoring great programs that have been slashed from school offerings because of a focus on math and reading and dwindling funds,” said Van Roekel. “Our students and educators have been calling out to Congress for years now to invest in classroom priorities that build the foundation for student learning.”

How deceptive is Rhee’s organization?

A short while ago we brought to your attention the partisan political nature of Michelle Rhee's organization - The Washington Post brings news today, of the deceptive tactics being used to push their school privatization agenda

Even teachers might be fooled into thinking the organization is all about helping them, when it is actually intended to bring down teachers unions which are often blamed for failing schools by protecting adults. That argument, of course, ignores the fact that the problems are the same in states where teachers are unionized and in states where they aren’t.

Rhee, by the way, appeared Monday at the national school choice summit of the the American Federation for Children, whose board chair is Betsy DeVos.

She is wife of Dick DeVos, who is the son of the co-founder of Amway, and the sister of Erik Prince, founder of the private military contractor once known as Blackwater USA and now called Xe Services LLC.

The DeVos family has spent millions to support efforts to promote vouchers and promote reforms that are furthering the privatization of public education.

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It's National Teacher Day!

Today is National Teacher Day!

National Teacher Day

On this day we would like to thank everyone who has supported Join the Future, and in doing so helped to support our goals.

  • Advocate for great public schools
  • Continually build a strong network of community support
  • Promote policies that improve public education
  • Foster respect for public school teachers and education support professionals

About us

Join the Future is a collaboration among professional educators, support staff, the communities we serve, and citizens whose interests include supporting great public schools throughout Ohio.

Key Goals

  • Advocate for great public schools
  • Continually build a strong network of community support
  • Promote policies that improve public education
  • Foster respect for public school teachers and education support professionals

There are a number of ways you can contact us.

  • We read all our mail. Would love to hear from you if you have ideas, tips or suggestions for Join the Future.
  • You can also sign up for our weekly emails by subnitting your email in the form above.
  • You can message us on Twitter, @jointhefutureOH
  • Or you can visit our Facebook page

However you choose to contact us, we look forward to hearing from you.