Friday, May 13, 2011

NEA to the table . . .

It looks like the National Education Association is finally ready to enter the teacher evaluation debate. For some time the American Federation of Teachers, represented by Randi Weingarten, has been engaged in this conversation and has endorsed evaluation models that include the use of student achievement data based on standardized tests. The NEA has been mostly silent on the issue. In this Education Week article, NEA Leaders Propose Teacher-Evaluation Shift, I find that the silence was due to policy resolutions that restricted their leaders from engaging in the conversations.

The NEA board of directors will be proposing a policy statement at its Representative Assembly in July that includes the potential for valid, reliable, high-quality standardized tests to be included in a comprehensive evaluation model. I believe that this is overdue. We cannot ignore achievement in evaluating the effectiveness of teachers, principals, teaching and learning departments and the superintendent. Yes, there are many other factors that influence achievement, but the bottom line is that we are responsible for ALL students achieving at high levels.

The following piece from the article reinforces our belief in the need for teacher leadership and support as we implement Classroom 10.

The policy statement also outlines features of such a system’s implementation. The evaluation system should provide lots of nonevaluative feedback to help teachers improve their craft, as well as a final rating, it states. And observations must be conducted by trained objective evaluators, including, potentially, mentor-teachers or peers.

It calls on such systems to be fully funded and supported, noting that “our schools currently do not have enough staff trained to provide meaningful evaluative and nonevaluative feedback to teachers.”

I would argue that the system MUST, not should provide lots of feedback. I agree that there are not enough administrators in any school to do this and that we must develop capacity within the teacher ranks if we are to be successful in supporting growth for all teachers, the necessary outcome of any comprehensive evaluation model. We are in the process of this work through our teacher leadership institute and are collaborating with teacher leaders on what this work needs to be and the support that teacher leaders will need to be successful in supporting their colleagues.

I will be following this conversation as it unfolds in July. I wonder how the TEA delegates to the national assembly will be voting.

1 comment:

Scott Mitchell said...

As we sit at our state rep assembly this morning, we have been in conversations about evaluation with our local delegates. This July, TEA will have 3 reps at the NEA rep assembly; John Schuster, Amy Adams, and myself. We are looking forward to being a part if this discussion with 8000 other members from around our nation. We know Tahoma has been working collaboratively with the district on the changing of our current model and our efforts are being held in high regard at WEA as a model of working together for creating change. Yesterday, Gov. Gregoire spoke to the WEA delegation and afterwards, the evaluation pilot districts were able to have a two hour meeting with her to talk about evlaluation. Scott Poirier was at this meeting and when I saw him last night, he said that he had talked to the governor about the work in Tahoma and why it is important to have flexibility without models. He also mentioned the Alan Burke is now talking about flexibility in his talks with others.

To end, I just want to say that I think feedback is a must and I look forward to talking about this motion at NEA Rep Assembly this July.