New Evals for Teachers in Development

Not for us, of course, but still, as I’ve said before–the developments at the K-12 levels are worth watching.

Developments like this (from the article):

A pilot program called Excellence in Teaching, now being tested in 100 Chicago schools, seeks to produce an honest conversation about performance, useful feedback to teachers from principals and more realistic evaluations of performance in the classroom. Instead of a vague checklist that principals use to rate teacher effectiveness, the new program aims to define good and bad teaching, gives principals and teachers a common language to discuss frankly how to make improvements, and requires evidence that teachers meet certain criteria.

(For the record, as I have said before, I am wholeheartedly in favor of drastic revisions to our evaluation procedures. The tenure process is a nightmare and the Post Tenure Review, which I went through last semester, is so facile that it is both hilarious and depressing at the same time, not to mention pretty much a waste of time. Take a look at the form for class visitation sometime (it’s in the contract). Think about how bad the class you visited would have to be in order to write anything even slightly negative in response to those questions. It’s ridiculous. At some point, I think we have a responsibility, and by we, I mean, the Union of Teachers, to take the idea of professional responsibilities and peer review seriously. I understand that there are significant dangers to peer review, but there are dangers to inaction in the face of incompetence, too. I’m not saying that I know of anyone who is incompetent–I don’t. But I don’t think its unreasonable to expect an evaluation to do more than equate presence with competence. 2 cents. Of course on the other side of that fence are nightmare scenarios like this one. But if we don’t do it, others will, undoubtedly do it for us.)

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