How do we take the politics out of teacher evaluations?
One way is to have clear guidelines related to the evaluations. Currently the great many attributes related to the Massachusetts Teacher Evaluation system makes it easy for the system to become more political than accurate. To streamline the process with greater efficiency and focus will improve the system. Right now the way the system works takes too much time and leaves too much room for politics, popularity, and inaccuracy. If the process is streamlined it won't take away as much time from the important work of schools and learning communities.
I think that the actual attributes of the evaluation system should be streamlined to a simple checklist of what it means to reach proficiency or exceed it. I think that to simplify the actual evaluation to about 10 general categories with a checklist will help a lot. The categories for proficiency might look like this:
- arrives at work on time
- completes expected work
- engages in professional learning
- understands the expected curriculum content and skills
- establishes positive professional relationships with students, colleagues, and families
- helps students progress in expected ways
- participates in professional learning opportunities to continually develop teaching/learning skill and knowledge
- demonstrates a professional, respectful demeanor
To exceed might include categories like this:
- creates and forwards new teaching/learning programs and activities
- leads and/or participates in new initiatives
- participates in additional efforts to support student teaching/learning
- supports teaching/learning efforts in extraordinary ways at school and elsewhere
This is a first try at thinking about how to simplify the process so that it does not become a politically motivated event or a competition with quotas for how many teachers gain an exemplary rating.
Massachusetts' attributes for optimal teaching and learning are wonderful, but the density and complexity of the system allows it to become too political and too much of a popularity contest, and that's not positive.