Students are not learning, but teachers are told they’re doing their jobs effectively. This oxymoron is not new in American education, but recent teacher evaluation laws were supposed to demolish it by better aligning teacher evaluation scores and student learning outcomes.
The problem is: the laws aren’t working as intended. Even with new laws in place, the vast majority of teachers across the country continue to receive a rating equivalent to effective or higher. A new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) provides a new explanation for the phenomenon.
The report reveals that in almost all states, there are teachers who receive an overall evaluation score of “effective” or “highly effective” despite receiving a low score for leading students to academic achievement. This is possible because these teachers receive high scores on other parts of the evaluation such as principal and peer observations, student and parent surveys, and other district and state measures. As NCTQ’s new report details, the guidance and rules that structure states’ evaluation laws allow teachers who receive uneven scores throughout their evaluation to still be rated as effective practitioners — even when data show their students are not learning.
NCTQ’s report provides a new opportunity to discuss the negative consequences of misalignment between teacher evaluation and student learning outcomes. The following are a few damaging outcomes of such misalignment: Continue reading
Teacher evaluation is quietly slipping out of national focus. After years of implementation, many states and districts moved the needle on teacher evaluation, but progress has been incremental and politically tricky. So most people are not kicking and screaming to keep it in the spotlight. As districts and states prepare to go it alone, it’s important to consider the nuance inherent in teacher evaluation policy and showcase even the smallest of changes that lead to progress for teachers and students.
Fortunately, the National Council on Teacher Quality’s new teacher evaluation report highlights immense progress. The report goes into great detail and is an invaluable resource for anyone tracking teacher evaluation movement. Yet, NCTQ missed a chance to dissect even more nuance to show just how far states and districts have come on teacher evaluation. The report points out, “There is a troubling pattern emerging across states with a track record of implementing new performance-based teacher evaluation systems. The vast majority of teachers – almost all – are identified as effective or highly effective.”
Here’s a chart NCTQ uses to illustrate this point:
Click on image to enlarge.
As the chart’s labels suggest, NCTQ is lumping multiple categories together. But this masks some important nuance uncovered by the new evaluation systems. It is a huge improvement that —as NCTQ found—today there are only 7 states with fewer than three evaluation categories. While most teachers are still in the top two categories in most states, there is differentiation between those two tiers that didn’t exist before evaluation reform. To ignore those distinctions is a mistake.
Take New Jersey, for example. Continue reading