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The Hechinger Report, a non-profit news organization published and funded by the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media in the Teachers College of Columbia University, included three articles this week about teacher evaluation reform:

“Using teachers to evaluate teachers” (Elliott and Butrymowicz, 03.12.12)

“Wisconsin moving toward portfolio-based assessment for teacher-candidates” (Richards, 03.11.12)

“Indiana overhauls how it evaluates teachers” (Elliott and Butrymowicz, 03.11.12)

There is no question that education reform is needed; this is a focus widely accepted by educators and stakeholders across the nation and is a consistent finding in education research. This means the question shifts to “what is the best way to improve opportunities for all children to learn?” Of course, there are many variables to consider; suppose, however, we operationalize the question for measurement only in terms of teacher effectiveness:

“You have to start the process somewhere… If you don’t solve the problem of teacher quality, you will continue to have an achievement gap.” (Anderson, 02.19.2012)

“This whole process … has the possibility of really transforming education,” said Thomas Hunter superintendent of Greensburg Community Schools, which is a pilot site for [Indiana’s] model evaluation system [in 2011-2012]. “In very few years, there will not be a poor teacher in a classroom.” (Elliott and Butrymowicz, 03.11.12)

“More educators have either voluntarily left or been recommended for nonrenewal in this [teachers evaluating teachers] process than left under the old evaluation in my entire 37 years,” said Rick Muir, president of the Indiana Federation of Teachers (Elliott and Butrymowicz, 03.12.12).

The premise of operationalizing by teacher effectiveness is reinforced by a meta-analysis completed by Marzano (2003) which found a student scoring at the 50th percentile is likely to continue scoring at the 50th percentile after two years at an average school and in an average teacher’s classroom. However, consider additional findings from the study:

Most effective school, most effective teacher: After two years student increases from 50th percentile to 96th.

Least effective school, most effective teacher: After two years student increases from 50th percentile to 63rd.

Most effective school, least effective teacher: After two years student drops from 50th percentile to 37th.

Least effective school, least effective teacher: After two years student drops from 50th percentile to 3rd.

This means developing excellence among teachers as an end goal of improving opportunities for all children to learn is not a choice for leaders, but a responsibility.

 

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Anderson, J. (02.19.2012). States Try to Fix Quirks in Teacher Evaluations. The New York Times. Available online here.

Elliott, S., and Butrymowicz, S. (03.11.12). Indiana overhauls how it evaluates teachers. The Hechinger Report. Available online here.

Elliott, S., and Butrymowicz, S. (03.12.12 ). Using teachers to evaluate teachers. The Hechinger Report. Available online here.

Richards, E. (03.11.12). Wisconsin moving toward portfolio-based assessment for teacher-candidates. The Hechinger Report. Available online here.

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