AFT backs change in teacher evaluation

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, proposed using student test scores to evaluate teachers and expediting disciplinary cases against teachers in a speech today, reports the Washington Post.

The AFT, Weingarten said, wants “a fair, transparent and expedient process to identify and deal with ineffective teachers. But [we] know we won’t have that if we don’t have an evaluation system that is comprehensive and robust and really tells us who is or is not an effective teacher.”

Weingarten called for states to adopt standards for teachers and evaluate teachers by multiple masures, including value-added analysis of their students’ progress. She also called for mentoring and training to help teachers improve.

The AFT has asked Kenneth Feinberg, the respected mediator who ran the 9/11 victims’ fund, to develop a speedier system for investigating teacher misconduct.

While Weingarten has signaled openness to reforms before, but this is the most detailed proposal she’s made, writes Ed Week’s Stephen Sawchuk.

She presented a framework based on feedback from union leaders and teacher-quality researchers, in which evaluations would be based on a clear set of performance standards. Such an evaluation system should include “implementation benchmarks,” Ms. Weingarten said, to assure that administrators charged with overseeing the system follow through on their duties and provide tools and assistance so teachers can improve.

Teachers, she said, should be judged on a variety of measures, including classroom observations by peer evaluators and administrators, self-evaluations, appraisals of lesson plans, and reviews of student work, in addition to student test scores.

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert hopes the AFT is serious about change. The union’s credibility is on the line, he writes.

This is a very smart move by the AFT, but the devil is in the details — and the implementation.

Eduwonk has more on what to watch.

Teacher Beat adds context in a second-day story, including the fact that the NEA has been “strangely silent.”

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