Behind the Headline: Principal and Teacher, A Complex Duet

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Principal and Teacher, A Complex Duet
9/29/13 | New York Times

Behind the Headline
An Effective Teacher in Every Classroom
Summer 2010| Education Next

An analysis of the rollout of a new teacher evaluation system in Chicago sheds light on the challenges of getting teacher evaluation right, writes Brent Staples.

Principals were already stretched thin; now they are expected to

perform more frequent observations, during which they focus closely on things like the classroom environment, how well lessons are planned, and whether or not the teacher engages students and conveys information effectively.

This approach — and the mentoring that is supposed to support the teachers — will require a great deal of training for principals and an enormous investment of time, something school administrators don’t have. Beyond that, for the new system to work, administrators need the trust of teachers, who often view the evaluations as part of a plan to dislodge them from their jobs.

The good news, according to the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, which conducted the analysis, is that teachers are generally responding to the new system favorably.

Eighty-seven percent reported that the evaluator had provided fair and unbiased assessments of their work. Ninety-four percent of school administrators said the classroom observations and the conversations with teachers that followed had deepened the discussion about teaching. And principals said they had seen instructional improvements that seemed to flow from those conversations.

In an Ed Next forum on the challenge of getting an effective teacher in every classroom, Eric Hanushek and Kati Haycock agreed on the importance of improving teacher evaluation systems.

-Education Next

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