New report argues that K-12 teacher evaluations are flawed

The Denver Post reports:

Excellent teaching goes unrecognized and poor teaching is ignored across the country and in Denver, according to a national study that says failed policies make teachers as interchangeable as widgets.

The two-year study called “The Widget Effect: Our National Failure to Acknowledge and Act on Differences in Teacher Effectiveness” examined four states and 12 school districts, including those in Denver and Pueblo. It found common patterns: that teacher effectiveness rarely factors into decisions, such as how teachers are hired, fired or promoted.

“If you ask a superintendent and head of a union to name the top teachers and the bottom teachers, they couldn’t tell you,” said Dan Weisberg, vice president of policy for the New Teacher Project — the national nonprofit that conducted the study. “It goes back to the widget effect, which is the flawed assumption that each teacher is as good as the next.”

The study released Monday recommends districts adopt fair evaluation systems; train administrators to conduct the evaluations; tie evaluations to compensation and dismissal; and give poorly performing teachers a dignified way out.

The full Widget Effect report is available here.


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