No Child Left Behind may have standardized evaluations for every child in the public education system through testing, but if you want to know why a student is not reaching national achievement goals, the best place to look is the source of instruction: teachers. And when it comes to assessing their performance, the record is anything but standardized.
Twenty-seven states require all public school teachers to be evaluated annually, 40 measure student learning to gauge teacher performance, and 18 weigh student performance in granting teachers tenure, according to a study by the National Council on Teacher Quality.
That’s an increase from 2009, when just 15 states required evaluation and only four states took student achievement into account, but it’s also resulted in increased disagreement over how evaluations should be used.
Teachers are not eager to embrace the results of evaluations. The School Improvement Network conducted a survey of about 2000 educators across 46 states and found teacher attitudes toward evaluation was negative. About 70% of those surveyed said the evaluation process in their school was ineffective, 67% said they didn’t provide a fair and honest reflection of their work.
Teachers’ representatives say they welcome opportunities to improve, but don’t like that they often fail to provide information on how to better instruct students. “Teachers are hoping for information that will help them help kids, but that’s not what they’re getting,” Rob Weill, the director of field programs at the American Federation of Teachers, said at the Fordham Institute on Monday afternoon.
Increasing evaluations have increased calls for more resources for teachers. “We’re seeing that more and more teachers are saying we need additional support, we’re getting these evaluations now and we want to know what to do,” said Chet Linton, the CEO and president of the School Improvement Network.
Sandi Jacobs, the managing director for state policy at the National Council on Teacher Quality, says that while it’s important to make sure the proper resources are available for teachers after they’ve been evaluated, waiting until the policy is perfect is not the answer. “There’s a terrible urgency to make sure all kids have effective teachers,” Jacobs says, “There are real consequences for kids when we do nothing about ineffective teachers and we have to do something about that.”
The need for teacher evaluation is expected to increase as common core standards are further implemented.