Governor Parnell has recommended that the State Board of Education and Early Development (Board) “set the bar higher in weighting teacher and administrator evaluations based on student learning”. Currently, the Board has set the bar so low that anyone can merely walk over the bar. The Board has established that student academic progress should count for only 20 percent of a teacher’s performance evaluation, the same percentage that the Chicago Teachers Union “negotiated” by walking out on parents and students at the beginning of the school year. This begs the question: What makes up the other 80 percent of a teacher’s evaluation?
Kudos to the Governor for challenging the Board to set a more realistic metric of 33 to 50 percent of student performance/improvement counting toward a teacher’s performance. Why should Alaska trail some 20 other states in evaluating teacher’s performance? We are already dead last in the National Assessment of Educational Progress for 4th grade reading. One must look at the composition of the panel which established this 20 percent standard and possible motivations. The panel consisted of representatives from school districts, NEA-AK, higher education, and the State Department of Education and Early Development (DEED). Of course, the DEED did solicit public comments on its website.
It seems as if the State is focused on teachers when it should be focused on what is best for all Alaskan children. Teachers should be rated on the effectiveness of their teaching in the classroom. This is usually measured by student learning/growth data. According to the Education Commission on the States there are several methods already in place in Colorado, Louisiana and Tennessee which mandate that student achievement data account for more than 50 percent of a teacher’s performance. Why not adopt their methods instead of reinventing the wheel or do we have to do it the Alaska way?
Alaska lacks severely when it comes to evaluating teacher effectiveness in the classroom. In its most recent edition of “Blueprint for Change” yearbook, the National Council on Teacher Quality gave Alaska a “D” in overall teacher policy. We need accountability in the classroom to improve education in the classroom and also to reward those teachers who are excellent and outstanding. More accountability is a win-win for students, parents and teachers.