Education Week reports on the continuing trend in teacher ratings across the country. Both Hawaii and Delaware data show an overwhelming majority of teachers meeting standards. “As in many other states, among them Michigan, Florida, and Indiana, only a small fraction of teachers are getting low ratings.”
Questions posed by the author”
- To what extent is the evaluation process shaped by the norms at work in each school?
- In other words, are principals reluctant to issue low ratings because of the likelihood that it could affect morale and working relationships”
- Does the shortage of teachers in fields like special education impact the ratings?
New, higher college and career-ready standards have significantly raised expectations regarding what all students should know and be able to do. Heightened expectations for student achievement raises the bar for teachers. Principals in the know understand that we must build the capacity of teachers to deliver these new standards. For example, few secondary teachers have been trained to effectively integrate literacy–purposeful reading, writing, and discussion–into their content areas. Yet, under the new standards, literacy is a “shared responsibility” across all content areas.
It is unethical to rate teachers on skills that we know they don’t have…yet. Until the new standards and expectations are firmly entrenched in the culture of schools, principals must be builders of capacity, not inspectors of processes.