Charlotte Danielson is author of a number of books including Framework for Teaching, first published in 1996. She has consulted with state departments of education across the United States, as well as ministries of education abroad. She recently offered her view on how to improve current systems of teacher evaluation:
The idea of tracking teacher accountability started with the best of intentions and a well-accepted understanding about the critical role teachers play in promoting student learning. The focus on teacher accountability has been rooted in the belief that every child deserves no less than good teaching to realize his or her potential.
But as clear, compelling, and noncontroversial as these fundamental ideas were, the assurance of great teaching for every student has proved exceedingly difficult to capture in either policy or practice.
There is little consensus on how the profession should define “good teaching.” Many state systems require districts to evaluate teachers on the learning gains of their students. These policies have been implemented despite the objections from many in the measurement community regarding the limitations of available tests and the challenge of accurately attributing student learning to individual teachers.
Given this landscape, it makes sense to design personnel policies for the vast majority of teachers who are not in need of remediation. And, given the complexity of teaching, a reasonable policy would be one that aims to strengthen these educators’ practice.
In practical terms, a comprehensive personnel policy must not only ensure good teaching on the part of every teacher, it must also ensure opportunities for ongoing professional learning by all teachers, principally through collaborative planning, analysis of student work, and the like.
How can this be done?
- Any system must be able to identify seriously under-performing teachers and be designed to promote professional learning.
- An essential step in the system should be the movement from probationary to continuing status. Beyond that, the emphasis should be on professional learning, within a culture of trust and inquiry.
- An evaluation policy must be differentiated according to whether teachers are new to the profession or the district, or teach under a continuing contract.
- Novice teachers should be evaluated each year on an instructional framework, supported by a mentor using the same framework. After roughly three years, a decision can be made regarding continuing contract status. Once teachers acquire this status, they are full members of the professional community, and their principal professional work consists of ongoing professional learning.
- Experienced teachers in good standing should be eligible to apply for teacher-leadership positions, such as mentor, instructional coach, or team leader. These positions may carry enhanced compensation or have released time during the regular school day.
- Teachers who serve in leadership roles must receive training in the skills specific to those roles, such as facilitating group work and conducting professional conversations with colleagues.
- Career teachers should be assessed periodically to ensure they are still in good standing.
For the full article, see Rethinking Teacher Evaluation