Director of Education Reform
Charter schools are at the forefront of evaluating teacher effectiveness. They use assessments that rely on multiple, highly structured classroom observations conducted by experienced teachers and administrators as well as value-added models based on student test scores.
This method of teacher evaluations has generated results. It is one of the reasons Chicago charter school students have scored better than their peers on tests like the ACT.
It is unfortunate, then, that most public schools have been reluctant to reform the way they evaluate teachers.
Currently, most teachers’ success or failure at their job has little to do with their impact on student achievement. In Illinois, only 30 percent of teachers’ evaluations are based on how much progress their students make in the classroom.
Additionally, teachers are rarely given “unsatisfactory” ratings by their principals. This is because that rating starts a multi-year teacher removal process that most principals are not willing to endure.
Public schools are even more reluctant to reform how teachers get paid.
Currently, pay is dependent on two factors – how long a teacher has taught and how many degrees he or she has. A 2012 study conducted in Missouri shows that neither of these traits has a significant impact on student achievement.
An education system centered on choice would produce more effective teachers because schools would have to show parents that they are producing positive results in order to retain students.
Choice would allow schools to experiment with different models of evaluating teachers and different pay schedules – two reforms that are desperately needed.
Choice should be the cornerstone of any education system. It encourages competition, spurs innovation, increases teacher effectiveness and boosts student achievement.
Who doesn’t want more of that?