Guidelines For Improved Teacher Evaluations

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email

Successful students need successful teachers and some say the way that happens is through revamping teacher evaluations.

"Our current evaluations aren't comprehensive," said East Detroit Public Schools teacher Lincoln Stocks.

Stocks went on to describe the current evaluation process as simply a checklist. The American Federation of Teachers released new guidelines on Tuesday taht would weed out the weak and help others improve.

"It's sort of a menu with 71 items that can be constructed and tailored down to meed the district's needs," said Nate Walker with the AFT who helped compile the guide. A year of research into several school districts went into building the guidelines and it's split in domains with criteria that each district can choose from to make their evaluations tailor-made for their school. Some domains include student assessment, course syllabus and managing student behavior. Teachers would be evaluated by a combination of administrators and peers.

The 71 items are not only daunting to an already strapped school system but a challenge to these proposed guidelines is funding.

"If the foundation allowance of $470 per child is cut, it's going to be very hard for a district to have the resources to do the proper kind of evaluation like we proposed," said David Hecker, president of the American Federation of Teachers. "Bottom line is, we all say we want the best in the classroomand we all do --- well that means a real evaluation and that means staff who have the time... time to be trained and do it properly."

The Lansing School District does not fall under the AFT guidelines, but rather the NEA and MEA but Superintendent Wallace believes a thorough evalution is key. Now, the new legislation that ties teacher evaluation with student performance, he says it will pose some challenges.

"When you tie achievement to evaluation..... unfunded mandate."

Doctor Wallace says the district already has a comprehensive teacher evaluation in place. Stocks says while the AFT guidelines are detailed he believes his school is ready.

"It would be a burden, they would struggle with some of the other issues, but yes, they could do it," said Stocks.

And the teacher's union believes that districts have no choice but to do it, but the student's success depends on it.

For more information on the proposed guidelines, click on the link below.

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  • by Francis Location: Saint Johns on Mar 2, 2011 at 07:13 AM
    As a teacher, I take personal accountability for my role in teaching students. But not every teacher can be a miracle worker. There is a stark lack of focus on the cultural problems inherent to our society that, if addressed, could make a greater impact than economically and socially whipping our teachers without mercy. If we truly believe in education, let's put the onus on all of us, on each of our responsibility to make all of us better instead of using teachers as the sole scapegoats for our common shortfalls.
  • by Keith Location: Lansing on Mar 2, 2011 at 04:51 AM
    Well, D, as you are someone who has recently gone into teaching from another career, I do suggest you brush up on your SPELLING. No wonder some teachers get a bad rap. Can you imagine sending a letter home to parents with those kind of spelling errors in it? FYI, the administrator in your building is your PRINCIPAL, not your principle.
  • by D Location: East Lansing on Mar 1, 2011 at 04:53 PM
    As someone who switched into teaching from another career, I was suprised at the low level of evaluation that goes on for teachers. I think I was evaluated more when I bagged groceries during my early college days. Yes, we need to reform it very badly. There are a lot of good teachers who this will not really effect, but some of the bad ones will have issues with it. I do have some concerns with peer reviews, it can cause issues between staff members. There is also the concern of money, so much has been cut. We don't have money for subs so teachers can leave their classes to watch their peers; the administration has been cut some much we no longer have vice-principles and principles that can spend time evaluating the teachers more than once every few years (yes, I said years! Advanced teachers are only evaluated every few years, and usually only by a visit once or twice to the classroom.
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