The prospect of changing the way teachers are evaluated is not popular with many educators who fear a protocol that works in an “excellent” school won’t work in one that is “at risk.”
They worry that judging them, in part, by how much their students improve on standardized tests is unfair; some students are more academically gifted than others.
And they don’t understand how art teachers, who don’t traditionally test their students, will be judged.
All are reasonable concerns, and that is why the state Department of Education and Charleston County School District are trying out protocols before making them the rule.
And that also is why the state is encouraging schools to be part of its pilot program. The more data, the better. And the more teachers and administrators who offer feedback, the better.
Another fear teachers have is that simply focusing on how to evaluate teachers suggests that they are the problem in a struggling public school system.
Clearly, there are many problems that the system has to deal with. Poverty. Homelessness. Children of single parents. And illiteracy at home.
And clearly districts employ who they think will be the best teachers. But some teachers are better than others.
Evaluating educators on a number of performance standards, including classroom observations and student scores, is a way to identify and reward the best teachers — and to model good ideas for other teachers.
Yes, evaluations should also identify teachers who aren’t successful. They need help to improve, and if they can’t, or won’t, they need to be replaced.
This is a time for administrators and teachers to scrutinize evaluation protocols to help ensure the actual working test will be effective.
It is also a time for them to face their fears and keep an open mind.