The edReformer blog today had an interesting article entitled How to Pay Teachers. The article describes how teachers are evaluated and paid at Summit Prep school in California. The upshot is that teachers gather evidence to demonstrate their competence in seven teaching areas. The seven areas are Assessment, Content, Curriculum, Instruction, Knowing Learners and Learning, Leadership, and Mentoring.
What I found so interesting about the article is how much control and influence teachers have over the information that is determining their evaluations as teachers. If a teacher thinks she is terrific in Mentoring, then she would be responsible for gathering documentation to show the value of mentoring, perhaps a series of lesson plans from a "mentee" showing progress over the year.
First off, I think that giving teachers control and influence over their evaluations just makes sense from a perspective of fairness. It also makes sense from the perspective of motivation. Workers who feel that they have control over important aspects of their work tend to feel more motivated. Finally, the Summit Prep system gets teachers thinking about what is being expected of them and how to show that they are doing it well. In my opinion, it is the last benefit that is going to pay the biggest dividends. One major aspect of teaching that I feel is weak for most teachers is reflection about the quality and nature of the teaching they do. Teachers at Summit Prep who do not reflect on their teaching will find themselves at the bottom of the pay scale for years at which time an administrator is likely to notice the teacher's lack of progress and fire him or her.
My only question, which does not seem to be addressed in the post, is whether spending time to gather all the information teachers need to be evaluated gets in the way of teaching. Other than that, this seems like a great system for evaluating teacher performance.