Effectively Evaluating Teachers

What are your criteria for an effective teacher evaluation plan?

- League of Women Voters of Los Angeles


First and foremost, we must stop using standardized tests to evaluate the progress of teachers and schools. These tests were designed to help evaluate a student’s progress so that teachers could target students’ weak areas. Using these tests for other purposes results in undue stress being placed on students. It also causes schools to emphasize subjects that are tested over the arts and other subjects that are not tested. Critical thinking skills are also short changed as test-taking skills are emphasized over the ability to  employ knowledge. For these reasons, I have chosen to opt my children out of these tests.

Any successful evaluation system needs to recognize the unique nature of each child. Unfortunately, the district’s current data-focused system ignores this. For example, a Level 4 (Highly Effective) teacher needs to have a classroom that “functions as a community of learners with student assumption of responsibility for learning.” Under this description, my daughters’ special education teachers will never be considered highly effective, since my children are not capable of assuming this type of responsibility. Even in a typical class, this type of evaluation places responsibility on the teacher for the student’s behavior. A better system would judge teachers on their ability to help each student achieve their full potential.

Eliminating blind adherence to data requires administrators who are well-trained, have actual classroom experience and have the ability to work with teachers in an on-going basis. This is the only way that they can understand the intricacies of each class and determine if the teacher is meeting the needs of the students.

The system also needs a way to protect teachers who speak out against policy or inform parents when their children are not getting the services that they need. Today they are simply categorized as “bad teachers” and removed from the classroom. When this happens, we lose good teachers and hurt our children.