Edreformer has two blog entries today looking at teacher evaluation. Frequent conversation as teacher evaluation and Rhee-engaged. The entry about Michelle Rhee in Washington, DC laying off teachers who were poor performers rather than lowest on the seniority list is quite interesting.
Both entries and their links talk about the need to improve teacher evaluation, and I agree completely. Teachers who are weak need to be told that and they need to be helped to get better or they need to be removed from the system. And evaluations simply CANNOT be once a year or once every two years if they are to be effective. The evaluations need to be regular and positively focused. As well, teachers who are doing a good job need to be publicly praised, materially rewarded, and set up as role models for other teachers.
The one thing that I did see missing from the talk about teacher evaluation was proper support for all teachers, both weak and strong. So many teachers who try to do good jobs are told that they cannot have the resources (books, computers, movies, etc.) that they need, typically for budgetary reasons. But how can we expect teachers to be excited and passionate about teaching when almost all their ideas are shot down for non-pedagocial reasons? It is so easy for those teachers to give up on doing a good job and just inhabit the system. As part of any modified system of teacher evaluation, the education system needs a complimentary system to make sure that needed resources.