Two new videos: Teachers speak out, dispel myths about teacher evaluations

Like many states, Ohio is struggling with how best to evaluate teachers and how to use those evaluations to inform personnel decisions (like remuneration, tenure, professional development, and ? when district budgets or enrollment levels leave no other choice ?layoffs). (Read today's Ohio Education Gadfly for more background on the Buckeye State's current legislative battle over teacher evaluations.)

Last week we released a video, What Ohio can learn from DC's teacher evaluations, featuring interviews with teachers evaluated under the DC IMPACT system. The teachers we interviewed ? which include science teachers, an elementary math coach, a fourth-grade teacher (of all subjects), a special ed middle school teacher, an art teacher, and a master educator (who conducts the observations on behalf of DCPS) ? shared what it's like to be evaluated via five observations each year and have part of their performance linked to student test scores.?

Today we released two more videos, wherein teachers evaluated under DC's IMPACT system address common fears and myths about rigorous evaluations.

Part 1

Part 2

Even prior to Ohio's legislative battle over teacher evaluations, myths and fears expressed by educators and policymakers about teacher evaluations have been rampant here. Opponents of overhauling teacher evaluation systems argue they're inherently unfair, arbitrary, prone to bias, focused too much on test scores, ruin collaboration, create competition, etc.??

But are they really? The teachers participating in DC's rigorous evaluation system had some candid and powerful responses. Their insight begins to peel back the myths and fears we've heard here in the Buckeye State. Do evaluation systems like DC IMPACT water down the art of teaching to one set of test scores on one day? No. Frequent and unannounced observations spread out over the year, along with several other metrics ? like commitment to school community and professionalism, and student test scores ? actually capture the measures of effective teaching far better than previous evaluation systems. Teachers in non-tested subjects, like art and science, explained how IMPACT evaluates them fairly even though their scores are somewhat different from those of teachers in tested grades and subject areas. And every single teacher we interviewed could point to specific areas of instruction that improved as a result of the feedback cycle and relationships with master educators (who conduct the observations). In short, while IMPACT isn't perfect ? and neither is any evaluation system out there ? it's certainly far better than what Ohio has in place and should compel us to institute a more meaningful system in the Buckeye State.

- Jamie Davies O'Leary and Emmy Partin

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