In Hillsborough County, Florida, principals and peer evaluators are learning how to evaluate teachers, reports the St. Petersburg Times. The goal is to evaluate teachers fairly and consistently and provide feedback that will help teachers improve.
On the screen, a rookie teacher from California was starting a vocabulary lesson with middle school students who were learning English. He asked them to draw words from a hat, look them up in dictionaries if necessary, and turn them into a story.
. . . Some students floundered in looking up definitions, while others quickly finished the task. And their stories didn’t focus much on the vocabulary; one was about getting drunk on beer and going to jail. The lesson was, at best, a mixed success.
Still, not all of the observers watching the video in Hillsborough drew the same conclusions. Fourteen marked the teacher “exemplary” or “accomplished” on the new, four-point scale, while 15 marked him “developing.” None said his teaching “required action,” the lowest grade.
. . . The whole system will fall apart if each evaluator has a different idea of what effective teaching looks like, warned Cambridge trainer George Wallace, a former British school director. Teachers need consistent standards, and evaluators must back up their judgments with specific examples of what they see in classrooms.
“I’m being a bit brutal here,” he said. “But you’re not going to tell a first-year teacher it’s okay if it’s not, are you?”
The Gates Foundation is funding the training.
In Riding the silver bullet on Gotham Schools, Arthur Goldstein worries about New York City’s new teacher evaluation system, which will rate teachers in part by their students’ scores. He’d rather be evaluated by administrators.