With hundreds of mentors and “peer evaluators,” big raises for teachers and consultants’ fees, teacher evaluation has become a budget buster in Hillsborough County, Florida, reports Marlene Sokol for the Tampa Bay Times.
The Gates Foundation offered $100 million to fund Empowering Effective Teachers if the district paid the other half. Although other foundations also contributed, the district’s share has ballooned to $124 million.
“With $200 million in private and public money to play with, it was as if the district dined out nightly, ordered lobster and never kept track of the mounting tab,” writes Sokol.
Teachers got raises for performance — and for seniority. Most of the big raises went to veteran teachers in suburban schools, while high-poverty schools continued to get the least experienced, lowest-paid teachers.
Test scores rose, but the district continues to lag on graduation rates.
Hillsborough may cut back on peer evaluators, instead asking high-performing teachers to provide “non-evaluative” feedback to colleagues.
Valerie Strauss is leading the chorus of sneers, writing, “Another Bill Gates-funded education reform project, starting with mountains of cash and sky-high promises, is crashing to Earth.”
Forty-three states require that student achievement and growth be included in teacher evaluations, according to a National Council on Teacher Quality report. In 35 states, it’s a significant factor.
Only Alabama, New Hampshire and Texas have teacher effectiveness policies that exist only in waiver promises made to the U.S. Department of Education.