Thousands of teachers responded to Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s request for their thoughts on how to design a new way to evaluate and pay teachers.
Over the past six months or so, Kasich lead education adviser Robert Sommers and Ohio Teacher Liaison Sarah Dove combed through teachers’ letters and emails to Kasich and held 19 meetings across the state to talk to educators (though not to teachers’ union leaders) about changes to Ohio’s teacher evaluation system.
As you may know, by the start of the 2013–14 school year, Ohio public school districts must adopt new ways of evaluating teachers. Charter schools that get federal Race to the Top funds must do the same. Ohio’s state Board of Education approved the framework for this new evaluation system in November 2011. Some schools are now piloting it.
The result of those emails and meetings: A 24-page report (scroll down to read it) with analysis of what teachers “believe” and then four recommendations to get us there. To paraphrase the recommendations:
- The Ohio Department of Education should remember that it needs to decide how student growth should be measured for teachers of subjects or grades that aren’t covered by state standardized tests
- Great teachers should be evaluated differently from lower performing ones.
- Principals shouldn’t have to bear the full burden of conducting evaluations. Other trained professionals should do some of the evaluating.
- The evaluation system should not be based ONLY on student test scores.
Those recommendations basically describe the model approved by the state Board of Education last month. (And, as Central OEA/NEA blog Join the Future notes, the report isn’t intended as a scientific analysis of all comments received.)
But beyond recommendations, the report is a nice piece of diplomatic writing. Here are a few of my favorite passages from the report and their possible translations:
- “This document is not the proper forum to air the litany of complaints that teachers have about Ohio’s current assessment system. Comments about problems with the current assessment system were numerous. Even more significant, however, is the realization by teachers that the state will soon have a new system of assessments that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards.”
- If you think standardized tests are sucking the learning out of schools now, I’ll bet you 20 bucks these new tests are going to be worse.
- “Teachers have great respect for parents and students, but they realize that families are not always happy with every encounter they have with a teacher. Teachers are unsure about how student and parent evaluations could be factored fairly into an overall evaluation system.”
- You should meet some of the parents who send their kids to my school. No way do I want them having a say about my paycheck.
- “To have a truly powerful impact, however, the evaluation system must lead to professional development opportunities that are timely, relevant and aligned with each teacher’s needs. Many teachers do not feel that the current approaches to professional development accomplish this.”
- If I have to sit through one more “teaching the whole child” webinar I’m going to cry.