Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness is Evolving

Jessica Meyers, Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness is Evolving, The Sacramento Bee, Oct. 17, 2010, available at http://www.sacbee.com/2010/10/17/3110547/evaluating-teacher-effectiveness.html.

Who deserves rewards? Who should get fired? And most perplexing: What makes good teachers and how do we know it?

“That is the $64 million question,” said Linda Bridges, president of the American Federation of Teachers’ Texas chapter. “It’s not just a snapshot in time via a standardized test or a classroom observation in 45 minutes.”

In Dallas, schools have used a form of value-added analysis for more than a decade.

Dallas school officials have said for years that they don’t actually use the rating in teacher evaluations. But their purpose came under scrutiny in 2008 when the school board approved a teacher incentive plan that paid bonuses to teachers with the highest scores. Last year, administrators said they would use the numbers to determine whether teachers could keep their jobs. Officials later decided against it.

“The problem is that it’s not a verifiable tool,” said Diane Birdwell, former president of National Education Association-Dallas and a teacher in the district. “Education is an art, not a science, and they are trying to break it into a science.”

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