Ohio school districts are in the middle of making major changes to how public school teachers are evaluated. The changes come amid a national push to make teacher evaluation actually count. That means using it to help teachers improve and to tie performance to how teachers are paid and whether they keep their jobs.
How important is this change to teachers and principals? So important that about 2,500 of them will descend upon Columbus tomorrow for a conference on what the new evaluations will look like and what they mean.
Among the lessons they may take away:
- At least half of a teacher’s evaluation must be based on how much students improve over the course of the school year. But there are several ways to do that.
- There are legal issues attached to how teachers are evaluated, including the threat of lawsuits.
- Teachers and districts are touchy about how the public and the media talk about teacher evaluations. Some other states have passed new laws to ensure that individual teacher ratings cannot be publicly released.
- The intent of the new teacher evaluation policy is to identify where teachers are doing well, and where they need help to improve. That could mean the end of one-size-fits-all professional development sessions.
- By the start of next school year, all math and reading teachers in grades four through eight will receive “value added” reports. Those reports will show the teachers–and their principals–whether they’re teaching their students a year’s worth of content, no matter at what level the students start off the school year. It also means educators will be able to identify which teachers are falling short, and which ones are knocking it out of the park.