What’s going on with teacher eval?

So yesterday, the State Education Department’s appeal of NYSUT’s court win over teacher evaluation went before the courts. Here’s one rundown and here’s another.

And here’s a view from the trenches. Peter DeWitt, an elementary teacher in the Capital Region for 11 years before becoming principal of the Poestenkill Elementary school in 2006, offers this analysis about the current climate of teacher evaluation and what schools are facing in Education Week. Here’s an excerpt:

We should really focus on what this is all about and it certainly has nothing to do with students. … It has to do with holding back funding in an effort to get an agreement on teacher and administrator evaluation. It has to do with raising test scores on a high stakes test that schools do not control and lack validity and reliability.

If we really want to change education for the better, get rid of the emphasis on high stakes testing and make schools accountable for having their own locally developed measures. Erase the effort to tie evaluation to high stakes testing because high stakes testing scores can be affected by outside influences such as the home environment or a bad interaction on the way to school. In addition, many students have test anxiety, especially in our present testing environment. It’s not an excuse, it’s a reality. Most important of all, we do not want our teachers focusing on test prep, rather than on our students’ needs.

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