The secret is out: Current teacher evaluation systems in the United States are entirely inadequate. Evaluations bear little or no relation to student achievement, and they fail to provide teachers with information about what they do well and what they need to do better. Furthermore, as a condition for receipt of State Fiscal Stabilization Funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Governors may have to report the percentage of teachers rated in each evaluation performance category, district-by-district. Nobody should be surprised if the percentages of teachers rated below par are extremely low.
But why does this matter? Rigorous teacher evaluation systems represent an important tool for aligning teacher policies with the goals of improving instruction and student achievement. In particular, tenure policies meant to protect teachers from arbitrary dismissal, have developed a reputation for protecting incompetent teachers. In the absence of rigorous evaluation systems, tenure will surely continue to draw fire from critics of long-standing employment practices.
Joan Baratz-Snowden, President, Education Study Center
Morgaen L. Donaldson, Assistant Professor, Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut
Peter Kilmarx, Vice President of Human Resources, Green Dot Public Schools
Kate Walsh, President, National Council on Teacher Quality
Cynthia G. Brown, Vice President for Education Policy, Center for American Progress