Nearly everyone who works in Washington state’s schools is rated satisfactory, reports Education Sector’s new Chart You Can Trust. Only 0.92 percent of teachers, 1.42 percent of principals, 1.02 percent of superintendents, and 2.1 percent of school support staff such as janitors and librarians were rated unsatisfactory, writes Chad Aldeman.
The vast majority of schools failed to identify a single low-performing teacher, and 239 out of 261 districts did not identify a single low-performing principal.
Ed Sector calls it the New Widget Effect. That is, all school staff are rated the same, just like interchangeable widgets. There are no low performers and no high performers.
Even in states that have revamped teacher evaluations, nearly all teachers are rated satisfactory or better, reports the New York Times.
What percentage of school staffers “should” be unsatisfactory? That’s up to local communities to decide, writes Aldeman.
If student performance was low and flat in certain schools, especially compared to similar students in other schools, that community might want to hold more adults accountable. If students at a particular school achieve at high levels and show strong growth, that school probably doesn’t have the same urgency around identifying poor performers.
Don’t be stupid about implementing teacher evaluations, advises Bill Gates in the Washington Post. (I’m summarizing, but that’s the gist of it.)
“Move teacher evaluation outside the school entirely, with standardized tests administered by an independent agency.” writes Edward Glaeser, a Harvard economics professor. “This would be supplemented by classroom assessments based on unobtrusive videotaping, also judged by outsiders, including teachers’ representatives.”