Friday, September 14, 2012
New Teacher Evaluations Among Roots Of Chicago Strike
As the historic Chicago teachers strike closed another day, those familiar with the contract negotiations said a new evaluation system, which would assess teachers on students’ progress during the year, remained a point of contention.
A state law signed in 2010 requires all Illinois public schools to install a new teacher-evaluation system by the 2016-17 school year. Chicago public schools are trying to implement a plan that measures student improvement on standardized tests and counts student “growth,” or lack thereof, as part — at least 25 percent — of teachers’ performance evaluations.
That has caused teachers to worry that the new system will penalize them unfairly for factors beyond their control — student poverty, hunger, homelessness and uninvolved parents among them.
“We’re seeing some of these picket signs saying, ‘Don’t judge us exclusively on our kids’ standardized tests,’" said Jessica Handy, policy director at Stand for Children Illinois, which champions issues related to public education and graduation rates. “We shouldn’t be treating the 22-year-old college student just out of school like a super hero that gets thrown into a class with 32 kids and be expected to work magic with no support.”
How do you assess progress of students who already are at the top of the scale and can’t grow as much because they’ve already got the material down? What about learning-challenged students who come to school hungry or whose parents never read to them? Should they be judged the same as middle-income students whose parents are involved? Should there be a sliding scale? “It’s not as straightforward as it sounds,” said Sue Sporte, director of research operations at the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research.
"I think if you tell teachers that you’re going to be judged based on student performance, it’s a scary prospect," said Handy, "especially for teachers who do work in those underserved areas.”
You can read Jayette's full report at: http://watchdog.org/56189/il-new-chicago-teacher-evaluation-system-at-root-of-strike/
In the pic: Striking Chicago teachers.