Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Teacher Evaluations

I'm a very data-driven person, though, and I like using data to help improve outcomes.  In my professional life at a subscription billing company, we process over $2B/ year in credit card transactions.  One of the things my team does is deeply analyze that data to increase revenues for our clients.  I believe we should bring that same discipline to how we deliver education for students.

Let me start by saying that I think we have some incredibly talented and hardworking teachers.  I start there, because any time you talk about evaluations in public education, people think that the discussion is only about chasing out "bad teachers".  In our case, I'm most interested in recognizing what works.  Different teachers have different techniques.  Our district already analyzes test data to help improve instruction in this way.  To me, the next logical step is to use that same data as part of the evaluation process.  The primary function of a teacher is to help a student learn.  If we have data that shows they are doing this well, it seems only natural to me to use that data in the teacher's evaluatoin.

There is a bill in Sacramento right now, though, that is trying to make this whole process harder.  AB5 seeks to unwind the use of test data in teacher evaluations.  This flies against the national trend, and in my mind, flies against common sense.  There is a good editorial in the LA Times that discusses the issue.  Have a read, and if you are so inclined, reach out to Sacramento (Senator Joe Simitian, Assemblyman Rich Gordon) and let them know that this is a step backwards for our kids.