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Policy Recommendations

Page history last edited by pbworks 8 years, 1 month ago


Policy Recommendations


          Teachers find that on-the-job training in school amongst good teachers is the best way to learn good instructional practices (Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, 1999). However, there is little relationship between teacher certification and classroom teaching effectiveness in terms of student achievement (Gordon, Kane & Staiger, 2006). Therefore, the teacher certification process should include teacher performance in the classroom Webmail (K. Merseth, personal communication, October, 15, 2009). The current certification process in Massachusetts does not have a performance-based evaluation.  We would like to recommend two policy changes.


Firstly, a novice teacher’s first year performance in the classroom should be a part of the teacher certification process (Gordon, Kane & Staiger, 2006; Maxwell, 2009; National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 2005). This performance-based evaluation should be during the period when the teacher is has an Initial License, and is teaching fulltime in a school. The school could use a model similar to Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) for this evaluation (Johnson, Fiarman, Munger, Papay, Qazilbash and Wheeler, 2009).  In the PAR model, a consulting teacher (CT) who is trained in teacher evaluation is offloaded from her teaching duties in the school to mentor and evaluate the novice teacher’s classroom performance for a year. The CT will provide the evaluation panel, consisting of teacher union members, the principal and the department chair, with formative reports of the novice teacher’s ability to meet the performance standards of the state.  Then, the CT will do a summative assessment that includes an evaluation of the teacher’s classroom performance and a subject matter oriented portfolio (Sykes, 2004) and submit the report to the evaluation panel at the end of the teacher’s first year in the school. The CT will guide the teacher on how to assemble portfolio consisting of the teacher’s philosophy of education and evidence of quality teaching like purposeful lesson plans and feedback on students’ work. If all of the requirements are met, an excellent novice teacher can obtain a Professional License and tenure within a year.


Secondly, we recommend that a teacher would not qualify for the Professional License and tenure if the teacher fails the evaluation.  In addition, the Initial License, which is valid for five years, will be non-renewable in order to filter out the poor performing teachers from schools.  Five years should be sufficient time for novice teachers who fail the evaluation (R. Elmore, personal communication, November, 12, 2009) to meet the requirements. Teachers who are unable to meet the requirements will leave the teaching service (Hess, 2004).


Critics will say that this model for teacher evaluation is costly, requiring the training of CTs and assembling of portfolios (Johnson et al. 2009; Skyes, 2004). There is a need for additional teachers in the school as the CT is removed from classroom teaching for one year. We will argue that this outlay is much lower than the $10,000 to $20,000 that it currently cost districts to replace a novice teacher who leaves a school (Johnson et al., 2009).  The PAR model used in seven districts including Toledo, has been an effective way to support, retain and remove teachers by increasing teacher professionalism and building positive relationship with teacher unions (Johnson et al., 2009). A similar model of teacher evaluation in Cincinnati has helped to reduce teacher shortages in urban schools and increase teacher quality (Skyes, 2004). Massachusetts, which is vying for the Race to the Top funding, could use part of the allocated funds to pay for this model.


Critics will also say that there are not enough incentives for experienced teachers to become CTs to mentor the new teachers (Levin, Mulhern & Schunk, 2005). One way for the state to support this initiative is to develop differentiated roles for “master teachers” (S.M. Johnson, personal communication, October, 21, 2009).  This could be a way for the state to identify a pool of “master teachers” to help build internal accountability in schools (Elmore, 2004).



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