Pennsylvania teachers deserve meaningful feedback, but under the state’s current educator evaluation system—which hasn’t changed in more than 40 years—all they get is a quick observation that results in a “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” check mark.
We know great teachers matter—a lot. Research shows that students assigned to great teachers can learn about three times more in one year than those assigned to the least effective teachers, regardless of socioeconomic background. But because of the current evaluation system, we don’t know who our great teachers are or where they teach. In the 2010-2011 school year, 99.5 percent of teachers received the highest rating. We aren’t rewarding our great teachers or supporting those in need of extra help, and our students are lagging behind as a result.
Under HB 1980, districts would give teachers useful feedback by tying 50 percent of the evaluation to students’ academic progress and moving from a binary rating system (satisfactory/unsatisfactory) to one that acknowledges that teachers progress along a continuum of effectiveness as they grow and develop. The new system would build off of the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s successful pilot program, the Teacher Effectiveness Project, and use the student growth data that school districts currently receive every year.
Pennsylvania already has the infrastructure in place to enact a meaningful teacher evaluation system, and thanks to the $41 million Race to the Top grant, we have a lot of the funding for it, too. The only thing the state needs now is for your legislators to hear from you. Our teachers and the students they teach are too important to go ignored for yet another year.