Education Guide / Issues
WHAT THE EVIDENCE SAYS:
Teacher evaluation models can be used in different ways—to identify weaknesses and help teachers improve, or to get rid of seemingly poor teachers. Ask what goes into an evaluation, and how it’s used. Recent data show that for the most part, even with new evaluations, many states are producing the same number of teachers they deem ‘satisfactory’ as they had under the old systems. So, explore what “satisfactory” means; whether a school district has gleaned new information from evaluation systems; and whether that information is being used to improve teaching or make changes in the school.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Reporters should critically assess new models for teacher training, including those that are online or emphasize spending more time as a student teacher. Examine how teacher preparation programs measure the quality of their graduates. Ask about job retention rates for program graduates, and look at their respective student achievement data and teacher evaluation data.
“Sometimes, the complexity of human experience and effort falls out of the equation. We create good guys and bad guys in a way that oversimplifies and doesn’t help to find a solution. I also think that the stories of everyday teachers, who are literally doing triage and saving lives, get lost. Sometimes we do a story on a 'hero teacher,' but there are so many educators making sure students don’t fall through the cracks—no one will ever know their names or understand their impact.”