Archives for category: VAM

I received this sensible email from Melissa McMullan, who teaches sixth grade students on Long Island in New York State.


I am a sixth grade teacher in Comsewogue School District, Port Jefferson Station, NY. I have a PhD in Literacy Studies from Hofstra University. You have previously published my writing on your blog as it pertains to 3-8 testing and APPR. This year it is imperative that the state suspend both so schools can focus on meeting the myriad of students needs in the face of this pandemic.

I want to begin by sharing what I see every day when I go to work. Having been a teacher for 20 years, I see the worst teacher I have ever seen. Every day I judge my performance based upon what I know makes a good teacher. I see little to no evidence of a strong teacher performance based upon existing metrics, and what I know are standards of good practice.

This is a heavy burden to carry. I remind myself I am teaching in the middle of a pandemic. I am working in a classroom that is not my own. All of the materials I rely upon to do my job effectively, are outside, locked up in a trailer. I can’t do the collaborative work that has always benefited students. I am teaching an additional subject, one I have never taught before. We try not to handle students’ papers. I do not have the hundreds of novels and picture books we traverse in a “normal” year. Every lesson must be constructed in a way that ensures there is no shared touching of materials.

There is a bright side. Students have yoga mats. We go outside to do work. We are experimenting with modes to collaborate, while maintaining the appropriate distance. We are developing ways to have class conversations where we can hear one another through our masks. I am working hard every day to reinvent myself as a teacher in order to teach in these times.

Little I am doing is anything I have ever done before. And I am one of the lucky ones. I only had to learn one additional subject this year. Some of my colleagues have had to learn five. I am assigned to the same grade level I’ve been with throughout my career, while many of my colleagues are not. I am in the same building, while many of my colleagues have been relocated. I teach in one room, the majority of my colleagues are travelling room to room every period, with only the most essential items from their classrooms crammed on carts that move with them.

There is an undeniable level of stress every day. We are teaching in a foreign landscape, while monitoring masks and distance and how long it’s been since our students have had a break. We watch as our custodial staff travels throughout the building with backpacks and respirators spraying disinfectant on the surfaces we touch. Every day, students exhibit COVID-type symptoms of sneezing and/or runny noses. We have to determine, while teaching, whether their symptoms require a trip to our auxiliary nurse to be triaged. There is the “Do Not Enter” list, that has to be checked every day, containing names of students we cannot permit in our classrooms until they are cleared by the nurse.

Everyone, at every level of public education, is doing everything in his or her power to continue to educate children, in the safest manner possible. I own my failure this year. I cannot measure up to pre-pandemic instructional standards. Nor can colleagues who have been shuffled around classrooms, buildings, subjects and grade levels to maintain appropriate social distancing in classrooms, amid a frightening and stressful teaching environment. Every ounce of energy we have is expended standing in front of our students every day with a smile (while wearing a mask), projecting a sense of calm, kindness and love, while simultaneously finding any way humanly possible to teach in this situation. 

New York State must suspend its three through eight high stakes testing schedule, as well as its teachers’ Annual Professional performance review (APPR). Both endeavors carry with them an inordinate level of stress, and costs in both materials and manpower, while having no ability to assess what students and teachers should be evaluated for this year. If New York State is unable to relinquish these tasks, I respectfully ask that both my students and I be registered as failures, so we can move on and use our time, energy and resources for devising ways to succeed in this environment.

I tell students we are a part of history. We are in school in the middle of a pandemic. Forever we will be judged by how well we took care of one another. Measure that.

Melissa McMullan, PhD

Please read the NPE Action endorsement of Joe Biden for President.

We support public schools.

Donald Trump and his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, are hostile to the very idea of public schools. They have spent three years proposing deep cuts to public education and attempting to establish federally-funded vouchers for private and religious schools.

In contrast, Joe Biden has proposed dramatic increases in funding to public schools by tripling the amount that Title I schools would receive. He has voiced strong support for more counselors and psychologists in our schools, as well as increased funding for high-quality pre-kindergarten programs. He supports community schools that link social services and the school together to serve children and their families better.

At the Public Education Forum held in Pittsburgh in December of 2019, Joe Biden was asked by NPE Board member Denisha Jones if he would commit to ending standardized testing in schools. His unequivocal response was, “Yes. You are preaching to the choir.” He said to a national audience that “teaching to a test underestimates and discounts the things that are most important for students to know.” He described evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students as a “big mistake.”

At the same public forum in Pittsburgh, he was dismissive of the policies of Secretary of Education DeVos, saying that under his administration, “Betsy DeVos’s whole notion of charter schools…are gone.”

The public statements expressed by Joe Biden encourage us to believe that he does not intend to follow the disastrous education policies of the Obama years included in Race to the Top, which were closely aligned with the failed policies of George Bush’s No Child Left Behind.

We are taking candidate Joe Biden at his word. We believe that he recognizes that Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind were harmful to our schools and our children.

However, if those policies re-emerge, we will vigorously oppose them. We will also continue to be engaged in monitoring the words of both candidates and their parties’ platforms.

We urge our supporters and all friends of public education to go to the polls in November and vote for Joe Biden. The future of our public schools and our democracy is at stake.

In the words of NPE Action President, Diane Ravitch, “We support Joe Biden because he has promised to reverse the failed “test-and-punish” federal policies of the past two decades. For the sake of our children, their teachers, our public schools, and our democracy, Trump must go.”

The National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH), formerly known as the Education Research Alliance, released its first report after having been funded by Betsy DeVos with $10 million to study the effects of choice in schools. REACH used value-added methodology (judging teachers by the test score gains of their students to determine that those who got the highest VAM scores were likeliest to stay. It is safe to assume that these teachers were in the highest-scoring charter schools. On the other hand, the teachers with the lowest scores (no doubt, in the lowest-performing schools) were turning over at a high rate. The study’s conclusion is that (some) charters are keeping their best teachers (those with the highest VAM ratings) but (some) charters are not, which since they don’t get high VAM scores, is not a big deal.

We are excited to announce the release of the first study from the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH). Naturally, the subject of this study is one that’s considered the most important factor in school success: teachers.

New Orleans is the first all-charter school district in the country. This makes the city the first where schools are held strictly accountable for performance, where many employers in close proximity compete for teachers, and where schools have the ability to respond to these pressures with almost complete autonomy over school personnel. If school reform advocates are right, we would expect these policy changes to produce major change in the teacher labor market. Did this happen?

To answer this question, researchers Nathan Barrett, Deven Carlson, Douglas N. Harris, and Jane Arnold Lincove compared New Orleans to similar neighboring districts from 2010 to 2015, using student test score growth to measure teacher performance. They drew the following conclusions:

Teacher retention is more closely related to teacher performance in New Orleans than in traditional public school districts. Lower performing teachers in New Orleans are 2.5 times more likely to leave their school than high-performing teachers, compared with only 1.9 times in similar neighboring districts.
The stronger link between retention and performance might imply that teacher quality would improve faster in New Orleans than in similar districts. However, this is not the case. The difference in average teacher performance between New Orleans and comparison districts remained essentially unchanged between 2010 and 2015. This is apparently because of the larger share of new teachers in New Orleans, whose lower quality roughly offsets the city’s advantages in retaining higher performing teachers.
The stronger retention-performance link in New Orleans is somewhat related to financial rewards, though not in a way that is likely to increase the overall quality of teaching. We find that higher performing teachers only receive pay increases when they switch schools, which may increase teacher turnover. High-performing teachers do not receive raises for performance when they stay in the same school.
These findings highlight the complexities of policies intended to increase the quality of teaching. Future studies will build on this work by examining how performance-based school closures affect the teacher labor market.

Read the policy brief here or the full technical report here.

 

Jeb Bush created an organization called Chiefs for Change, whose original membership consisted of state superintendents who shared Jeb’s ideas: high-stakes testing, evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students, school grades of A-F, and school choice (charters and vouchers).

Chiefs for Change has now become a clearinghouse for district superintendents.

You can be sure that anyone recommended by Chiefs for Change is dedicated to disrupting and privatizing your district.

Here are some of the district superintendents that Chiefs for Change points to with pride.

Lewis Ferebee, the new Superintendent of the schools of the District of Columbia.

Susana Cordova, the new Superintendent of the Denver schools.

Jesus Jara, Superintendent of the Clark County (Nevada) Schools. Nevada’s State Commissioner Steve Canovera is a member of Chiefs for Change.

Donald Fennoy, Superintendent of Palm Beach County, Florida.

Deborah Gist, Superintendent of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Schools, along with Andrea Castenada, the district’s “chief innovation officer.”

There are more.

This is the Jeb Bush pipeline, the leaders committed to his vision of disruption and privatization. Of course, you won’t find those two words on Jeb’s website, but those are the results of his convictions, and the proof of those convictions can be found in Florida, the state whose education policy he has controlled for 20 years.

Mark Simon, a former teacher and current parent activist in D.C., is hopeful that the District is ready to reverse the failed policies launched by Michelle Rhee in 2007.

The district is under mayoral control, which itself is a failed structure that bears no relationship to improving schools. The mayor chose Lewis Ferebee as the new chancellor, who arrives with a reputation as a privatizer who aided in closing public schools in Induanapolis, which has been a target for the Disruption Movement.

Simon writes:

“The experiment of tying teachers’ evaluations and pay to student test scores is over. It captured the imagination of decision-makers in D.C., Denver and nationwide a decade ago. As Post columnist David Von Drehle pointed out, the demand to end the experiment motivated a citywide strike in Denver. An “innovation” when it began in 2006 has become what Von Drehle called “an anachronism.”…

“Acting D.C. Chancellor Lewis Ferebee, responding to questions at his nomination hearing before the D.C. Council this month, acknowledged he was brought to Indianapolis by reformers to be the disrupter of neighborhood schools. That’s not how he wants to be seen now. He’s spent the past two months listening to parents, principals, teachers and students, and he’s learned a lot.

“If policymakers pay close attention to what teachers, parents and students are saying, the District may stumble into insights to fix teacher turnover and tackle school instability. At public hearings, demoralized parents and teachers say teacher and school ratings over which they have little control feel inaccurate. Standardized test scores are driven by factors outside school, including the socioeconomic background of students and the quality of neighborhood assets, more than by what takes place in classrooms.

“Ferebee admitted that teacher turnover is a big problem in the District. He wants to take another look at the Impact evaluation system and the short-leash one-year contracts given principals. He’s heard there’s a culture of fear in schools. Teachers and principals are afraid to exercise their judgment or say what they think. He heard the District may, by design, have created a school system in which respectful relationships of trust have been undermined. In the rush to fix the outcome data on a few narrow indicators — test scores, graduation rates, attendance — we may have jeopardized the heart of what defines good teaching and what parents want from great schools.

“Listening to the questions D.C. Council members and the legions of public witnesses asked Ferebee, it’s clear that the tide has turned. There is a broad consensus that we need a correction in education reform in the District. Regardless of whether Ferebee gets confirmed as chancellor, the nominee, his overseers on the D.C. Council and teachers and parents who have lived through almost two years of scandals seem to have reached the same conclusions. The metrics used to judge schools and teachers have lost credibility. The voices of teachers and parents are starting to have newfound respect.

“I recently watched an amazing prekindergarten teacher, Liz Koenig, and her daughters, ages 2 and 4, at an EmpowerEd meeting. EmpowerEd was created two years ago by classroom teachers in D.C. Public Schools and the charter sector to elevate teacher voices and relational trust in each school and citywide. I watched Koenig as she allowed her daughters to make decisions while providing subtle feedback, building a sense of agency. It struck me that great teaching — the talent to nurture a child’s development — is personal, interactive and requires tremendous skill. I’ve seen the adoring letters from her students’ parents. She’s beloved. Teachers at her school voted her “best of staff.” So, it was a shock this week when we found out that the Bridges Public Charter School administrators have told her not to come back in the fall. It had nothing to do with the quality of her teaching, they said. The unspoken message was that charter operators are accountable only to the metrics that rate them as Tier 1, 2, or 3. There’s something wrong in DCPS and the charter sector when teachers are expendable.

“Teachers and public education have been subjected to one failed experiment after another over the past decade. It’s time to get back to measuring teachers and schools by the things that make them valuable and to admit that the past 10 years may have led us in some wrong directions. Schools are best measured by what parents, teachers and students say they’ve experienced: the learning culture.

“According to University of Massachusetts professor Jack Schneider, who spoke at a public Senior High Alliance of Principals, Parents and Educators meeting at the Columbia Heights Education Campus attended by the deputy mayor for education and other elected officials last month, there are excellent climate surveys of parents, teachers and students that should be on D.C.’s school report card, overseen by the state superintendent of schools on the My Schools DC website. Instead, most of the simplistic five-star rating is derived from the PARCC test.

“Teachers should be tapped and retained because they create a love of learning and change students’ lives — not just their standardized test scores. If we learn the lessons of this moment, and it looks as if there’s a good chance we are starting to, the District’s education future looks bright.”

Friends, the Corporate Reform Movement is dying.

The New York legislature pretended to kill VAM by passing legislation that shifts responsibility for teacher evaluation from the state to local districts. But the new law is old wine in a new bottle. It still requires that 50% of teachers’ evaluation must be based on test scores. This practice was denounced by a judge in New York, who called it “arbitrary and capricious.” This practice was rebuked by the American Statistical Association, which said it was invalid for individual teachers. This practice has been enjoined by judges in Houston and New Mexico.

New York State Allies for Public Education, the group that has led the wildly successful opt-out movement, issued the following statement today.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 21, 2019
More information contact:
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com
Jeanette Deutermann (516) 902-9228; nys.allies@gmail.com
NYS Allies for Public Education – NYSAPE

NYSAPE Urges Legislators to Vote NO to APPR Bill that Will Permanently Link High-Stakes Testing to Teacher and Principal Evaluations

This week, the NYS Assembly and Senate are expected to pass a teacher/principal evaluation bill that will amend the way NYS evaluates teachers and principals. Parents and educators who have taken a stand against the damaging effects of high-stakes testing vehemently oppose this legislation. Rather than the minor tweaks proposed in this legislation, we demand an immediate end to the mandated use of student test scores and student performance measures in the evaluation of educators and the closure of schools. Parents and Educators implore lawmakers to slow down and do further research. Please Take Action and write to your legislators in Albany to stop this speeding train!

Contrary to the claims of some supporters of the legislation, a close examination of the bills indicates that they continue to link teacher evaluations to student growth as measured by test scores and give the state education commissioner the power to shut down or take over schools based on state test results.

Reports of “decoupling” test scores from teacher evaluations are misleading and do not tell the whole truth. The proposed legislation does nothing to dismantle the current test-and-punish system. Under the proposed legislation, a district is no longer mandated to use the flawed grades 3-8 state assessments for evaluative purposes. However, districts must still use some type of test to evaluate teachers and principals.

How would this legislation work? School districts would still be required to administer all state assessments, but would have a choice between using the grades 3-8 state assessments for teacher evaluation or a different test altogether. If a district chooses not to use the grades 3-8 state assessments, the district must then select a separate assessment (often in addition to state exams) to be used in their evaluation plan. In addition to doubling down on high-stakes testing, the proposed legislation will logically lead to even MORE testing for students.

Despite the American Statistical Association and the National Science Foundation’s conclusion that evaluating teachers based on their students’ test scores produces statistically invalid results and does not improve learning outcomes, these bills ensure that 50% of teacher and principal evaluations will continue to be based on student assessments. This is hardly a victory. (For more on the 50% issue, see this article.)

Bianca Tanis, special education teacher and public school parent said, “I am disappointed by the misinformation campaign surrounding these bills. They perpetuate the same junk science that forces educators to teach to a test. At the end of the day, there is nothing about this legislation that is pedagogically sound.”

“Many professional organizations representing educators and stakeholders have expressed serious misgivings. The legislators must take the time to do further research and make an informed decision,” said Lisa Rudley, Westchester County public school parent, Ossining School Board member, and founding member of NYSAPE.

“We understand that some support of this legislation focuses on local control and the ability of school districts and local unions to choose their own tests for evaluation plans through collective bargaining. However, these bills put the burden of evaluating a teacher squarely on the backs of children through test performance. An evaluation system that pressures children and ignores research is reckless and morally flawed,” said Jeanette Deutermann, leader of Long Island Opt Out.

“The receivership component of the law means schools can be closed because a handful of students perform poorly on state tests. The stakes attached to these exams have never been higher. In no way does it help teachers become better at their jobs or schools to improve. This legislation does not even come close to decoupling high-stakes testing from the ways we evaluate our teachers and schools,” said Kemala Karmen, co-founder of NYC Opt Out.

Education historian Diane Ravitch points out, “The current teacher evaluation law (APPR) was passed to make New York eligible for federal funding from the Race to the Top program in 2010. Under this law, 97% of teachers in the state were rated either effective or highly effective. The law is ineffective. It should be wholly repealed, rather than amended as proposed. Let the state continue setting high standards for teachers and let local districts design their own evaluation plans, without requiring that they be tied to any sort of student test scores.”

Jamaal Bowman, Bronx middle school principal, said, “It is time to bring together parents, scholars, students, doctors, educators, and all who care about our children to create policy that equitably nurtures the brilliance in every child. Why are we still discussing teachers and standardized tests without discussing the toxic stress that greatly harms our children daily, and the lack of opportunity that exists for so many children across the state?”

“The entire idea of basing teacher evaluations on student growth is not only invalid, it is destructive. It alters the relationship between students and teachers–poorly performing students become a threat to job security. Districts will create new metrics that are just as unreliable and invalid as those based on the grades 3-8 test scores and Regents exams,” said Carol Burris, Executive Director of the Network for Public Education and a former New York State High School Principal of the Year.

“The day has come to call on all legislators to legislate and for all educators to educate. We need our legislators to stay out of the way when it comes to creating educational policy, especially when it has to do with evaluating teachers and principals. We need to bring trust back into the educational space. It all starts with trust, and we must trust the fact that using any test score to evaluate an educator is not only wrong, it’s just bad practice,” said Dr. Michael Hynes, Patchogue Medford School District.

The parents and educators in NYS who voted in this new legislative body are relying on them to slow down and take the necessary time to enact research-based legislation that will protect children, educators, and local control.

Please Take Action and write legislators in Albany to stop this speeding train!

NYSAPE is a grassroots coalition with over 50 parent and educator groups across the state.

Good news! The Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, and the State Commissioner, Lamont Repollet, slashed the stakes attached to PARCC testing. Until now, 30% of a teacher’s evaluation was tied to test scores on the Common Core PARCC Test. The governor and Commissioner just dropped it to 5%.

The practice of evaluating teachers by student test scores was heavily promoted by Arne Duncan and Race to the Top. It has been widely discredited by scholarly organizations like the American Statistical Association. It remains on the books in many states as a dead vestige of the past, a zombie policy that has never worked but never died.

New Jersey drove a stake in its icy heart.

“New Jersey Commissioner of Education Dr. Lamont Repollet today announced that PARCC scores will account for only five percent of a teacher’s evaluation in New Jersey next year, down from the damaging 30 percent figure mandated by his predecessors. State law continues to require that standardized test scores play some role in teacher evaluation despite the lack of any evidence that they serve a valid purpose. In fact, researchers caution against using the scores for high-stakes decisions such as teacher evaluation. By cutting the weight given to the scores to near the bare minimum, the Department of Education and the Murphy administration have shown their respect for the research. The move also demonstrates respect for the experience and expertise of parents and educators who have long maintained that PARCC—or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers—is an intrusive, harmful test that disrupts learning and does not adequately measure student learning or teacher effectiveness.

“Today’s announcement is another step by Gov. Murphy toward keeping a campaign promise to rid New Jersey’s public schools of the scourge of high-stakes testing. While tens of thousands of families across the state have already refused to subject their children to PARCC, schools are still required to administer it and educators are still subject to its arbitrary effects on their evaluation. By dramatically lowering the stakes for the test, Murphy is making it possible for educators and students alike to focus more time and attention on real teaching and learning.

“NJEA President Marie Blistan praised Gov. Murphy and Commissioner Repollet for putting the well-being of students first and for trusting parents and educators. “Governor Murphy showed that he trusts parents and educators when it comes to what’s best for students. By turning down the pressure of PARCC, he has removed a major obstacle to quality teaching and learning in New Jersey. NJEA members are highly qualified professionals who do amazing work for students every day. This decision frees us to focus on what really matters…”

“While the move to dramatically reduce the weight of PARCC in teacher evaluation is a big win for families and educators alike, it is only the first step toward ultimately eliminating PARCC and replacing it with less intrusive, more helpful ways of measuring student learning. New Jersey’s public schools are consistently rated among the very best in the nation, a position they have held for many years. Despite that, New Jersey students and educators are among the last anywhere still burdened by this failed five-year PARCC experiment. By moving away from PARCC, New Jersey’s public education community will once again be free to focus on the innovative efforts that have long served students so well.”

Mike Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, one of the leading advocacy groups in the Corporate Reform Movement, offers advice and consolation to fellow Reformers.

“After two decades of mostly-forward movement and many big wins, the last few years have been a tough patch for education reform. The populist right has attacked standards, testing, and accountability, with particular emphasis on the Common Core, as well as testing itself. The election of Donald Trump and appointment of Betsy DeVos, meanwhile, have made school choice and charter schools toxic on much of the progressive left. And the 2017 results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress indicate a “lost decade” of academic achievement. All of these trends have left policymakers and philanthropists feeling glum about reform, given the growing narrative that, like so many efforts before it, the modern wave hasn’t worked or delivered the goods, yet has produced much friction, fractiousness, and furor.”

Take heart, he says. The children of America need us to privatize their schools, bust teachers’ unions, and Judge their teachers by student test scores. Remember when they all laughed at NCLB, but now “we” know that it was a great success?

It’s true that NAEP scores have been flat for a decade. It’s true that charters close almost as often as they open. It’s true that the charter industry is riddled with fraud, waste, and abuse.

But stick with proven leaders like the hedge fund managers, Bill Gates, and DeVos.

Sorry to be snarky, Mike, but I couldn’t resist.

We have by now read about the independent Rand study of Bill Gates’ bet on Making test-based teacher evaluation the keystone of education reform. I distinctly recall Melinda Gates saying on PBS that “we now know” how to get a great teacher in every classroom in America.

Well, no, they didn’t.

The Gates put up $215 million and found willing suckers, I mean, partners to add even more of their own money to bring the total to $575 million to test the Gates’s shiny new idea.

It failed.

It exhausted the reserves of Hillsborough County in Florida, where MaryEllen Elia was Superintendent. She was fired but landed on her feet as State Commissioner of Education in New York. Believe it or not, the fiasco in Hillsborough County did not diminished her love of testing.

Valerie Strauss tells the sad saga here of Bill Gates’ latest failure.

“The six-year project began in 2009 when the foundation gave millions of dollars to three public school districts — Hillsborough County in Florida (the first to start the work), Memphis and Pittsburgh. The districts supplied matching funds. Four charter management organizations also were involved: Alliance College-Ready Public Schools; Aspire Public Schools; Green Dot Public Schools; and Partnerships to Uplift Communities Schools.

“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pumped nearly $215 million into the project while the partnering school organizations supplied their own money, for a total cost of $575 million. The aim was to create teacher evaluation systems that depended on student standardized test scores and observations by “peer evaluators.” These systems, it was conjectured, could identify the teachers who were most effective in improving student academic performance.”

There is a silver lining.

“In 2014, he gave a nearly hour-long interview at Harvard University, saying, “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.””

It’s 2018.so far, nothing funded by Gates has reformed education. We have only six more years to wait, and maybe then he will invest in children’s health or something else where he has a chance of doing good work instead of messing up the schools.

Rachel E. Gabriel and Sarah L. Woulfin of the University of Connecticut ask a simple but very important question: Isn’t it time to redesign teacher evaluation? Most states are stuck with laws they wrote to apply for Race to the Top funding. Nearly a decade has passed. We now know that test-based evaluation has failed. Why are so many states and districts holding on to a failed strategy for evaluating teachers? Is it inertia? Apathy?

The model in use is obsolete. It failed. It is time to move on.

“Under RTT, teacher-evaluation policies were designed using economic theories of motivation and compensation and statistical growth tools such as value-added measurement. Evaluation policies based on principles of economics and corporate management have failed to take into account the complex and personalized work of educating students.
While evaluation aims to address teacher performance and quality, what we don’t see is acknowledgement of teacher voice and choice in how policies affect their work. We need to create learning-focused evaluation policies for teachers that enable both students’ and teachers’ growth and align with the needs of schools, students, and communities.

“It’s clear to most educators that the current crop of teacher-evaluation systems is flawed, overwrought, and sometimes just plain broken. Detailed case studies demonstrate that some states now spend millions of dollars on contracts with data-management companies and statistical consulting firms. Many states and districts make similar investments despite the fact that researchers and policymakers question the wisdom of value-added measurement within high-stakes teacher evaluations.

“There is now an entire industry devoted to the evaluation of teaching and the management of student data. There are online professional-development video databases and classroom-walkthrough apps for school leaders—which have not demonstrated a positive effect on instruction. But all of them have inflated the edu-business marketplace…

“A learning-focused teacher-evaluation policy would create the organizational and social conditions teachers need to thrive. During goal-setting with administrators, teachers would work together to write challenging, yet attainable, goals for themselves and their students. They would also have professional-development opportunities to learn about different types of student-progress measurement tools to refine what works best. And in feedback meetings with school leaders, teachers would have space to reflect upon areas of their success and weakness. In turn, principals would devote time and energy to framing evaluation as an opportunity to learn about—rather than judge—teaching.

“To begin the transition toward this kind of evaluation, state and district administrators must shift the balance of resources away from measuring and sorting teachers into categories. School leaders must focus on subject-specific questions about teaching and learning, rather than applying a generic set of indicators. And instead of boiling teachers’ work down to a rating, leaders must share observations that help teachers extend what they do well and identify where they can grow.

“Only when we involve teachers in the process of evaluation policymaking will we come up with a system that supports and develops the teaching expertise students deserve.”