As a first-round Race to the Top grant winner,
has a head start on other states in implementing a new teacher evaluation program. The program’s major elements will seem familiar to anyone following Tennessee ’s education reforms: Connecticut
· Annual evaluations with 50% of the rating based on student achievement data and 50% on “qualitative” measures, such as classroom observation
· Five rating levels (significantly above expectations, above expectations, at expectations, below expectations, and significantly below expectations)
· Use of ratings to inform personnel decisions, including professional development, assignment, promotion, retention, tenure, and compensation
A new report summarizes feedback from teachers, principals, superintendents, parents, business and community leaders, and state and local officials on how the program is working after one year. As might be expected, views are mixed.
On the plus side, educators report having clearer and more rigorous performance expectations and receiving more regular and specific feedback. They also say the new system has encouraged individual teachers to make more use of student data and led to more district- and school-wide collaboration. At the same time, many teachers have yet to be convinced of the program’s benefits, have no access to high-quality professional development to help them improve, and find classroom observers’ interpretations of state scoring rubrics inconsistent.
In addition, two-thirds of the teachers subject to the evaluations work in non-tested grades or subjects. Thus, 35% of the annual ratings for these teachers is based on factors not directly tied to the teacher’s own performance.