The Unintended Consequences of the Nation’s Teacher Evaluation Binge

[The American Enterprise Institute’s Teacher Quality 2.0 is part of their ongoing series of conversations, which attempts to enliven and elevate the debate around student learning and teacher evaluation.]

In The Hangover, Thinking about the Unintended Consequences of the Nation’s Teacher Evaluation Binge authors Sara Mead, Andrew Rotherham, and Rachel Brown caution the wider education and education policy communities to exercise caution as no fewer than twenty states are moving at warp speed into the unchartered territory of “changing teacher evaluation systems to include evidence of teachers’ impact on student learning.” The authors suggest that while the need to focus on instructional quality and teacher performance and the impact of those things on a student’s success, policy- makers and education professionals need to proceed cautiously.

“After years of policies that ignored differences in teacher effectiveness, the pendulum is swinging in the other direction. By and large, this is progress—research shows that teachers affect student achievement more than any other within-school factor. Decades of inattention to teacher performance have been detrimental to students, teachers, and the credibility of the teaching profession. Addressing this problem is critical to improving public education outcomes and raising the status of teaching, and neither the issues raised in this paper nor technical concerns about the design and mechanisms of evaluation systems should be viewed as a reason not to move toward a more performance-oriented public education culture that gives teachers meaningful feedback about the quality and impact of their work."  However, Mead, Rotherham, and Brown worry that a dramatic pendulum swing from almost wholly ignoring instructional practice to an almost obsession level involvement with how to measure teaching success will almost certainly overwhelm the good intentions.

Follow this link to read the entire report,