Teachers welcome plan to reform evaluations

January 6, 2011

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ON BEHALF of nearly 20 teachers in traditional and charter schools across Greater Boston, we commend Paul Toner’s leadership and the Massachusetts Teachers Association’s plan to reform the state’s teacher evaluation system (“A union leader makes a breakthrough,’’ Op-ed, Jan. 2). We believe a better teacher evaluation system will improve outcomes for students in public schools across our state.

Our current evaluation system is broken. Among us, there are teachers who have not been observed formally in years. Evaluation must provide frequent, actionable feedback and incorporate multiple measures of teacher impact in addition to student growth and achievement data. Current approaches to evaluation treat teachers as though they are all the same, with no differentiation or recognition based on effectiveness.

The new system must identify both high-performing and underperforming teachers — to learn from the strong teachers and to give support or to counsel out those who are unable to demonstrate substantial improvement. We believe a robust evaluation system is critical to improving the teaching profession and to closing achievement gaps.

Elizabeth Butler
Kristina Sullivan

The writers are teaching policy fellows with Teach Plus Boston. Butler works at Codman Academy Charter School, and Sullivan, in the Cambridge Public Schools.