Performance Measurement for Public School Teachers Public schools have a major responsibility to their communities: preparing children to become good citizens, productive employees, and smart consumers. Unfortunately, trends such as

Performance Measurement for Public School Teachers
Public schools have a major responsibility to their communities: preparing children to become good citizens, productive employees, and smart consumers. Unfortunately, trends such as test scores, dropout rates, readiness for work and college, and persistent differences between ethnic and economic groups suggest that schools often fail to deliver.
Meeting the goals requires talented, motivated teachers who understand what behaviors are associated with successful instruction and have the necessary resources. A basic tool for achieving this should be a school’s performance management system. However, efforts to design measures for teacher performance suggest that it is complicated. Certainly, politics plays a role, but performance measurement for schools is challenging even from a strictly HR point of view.
The traditional approach has been to identify the teachers with the longest tenure and greatest education, then to reward these teachers with job retention and pay. The rationale is that the measures are objective (a teacher has a master’s degree or doesn’t and has clearly worked for some number of years), so they can be applied equitably. In addition, an experienced, highly educated teacher logically would have skills that a new college graduate has yet to learn. Still, former students would say the teachers who inspired them most are not always the oldest ones.
An approach to measuring performance that has recently been emphasized is students’ performance on standardized tests. This measure focuses on results, but test scores have their drawbacks. First, they raise the question of how much control a teacher has over scores. If a teacher’s class contains many students with behavioral problems, learning disabilities, or poor preparation in previous grades, should the teacher’s evaluation take that into account-and if so, how? Standardized tests also need to measure the outcomes that matter most. Should the school only be preparing students to recall facts on a multiple-choice test-or also to express their reasoning in writing? Further, standardized tests usually are relevant only to certain teachers. Most states test only reading and math skills. A few states test students in science and social studies. Some subjects, including music and physical education, lack standardized tests. Even where a test exists in a subject area, should a science teacher be penalized if students don’t read well enough to perform well on a science test? Furthermore, as a school superintendent in New York pointed out, it is expensive to create or buy a rubric specifying learning goals in each subject area for every grade.
Despite these challenges, some school districts have pursued more comprehensive testing, with results influencing bonuses paid to teachers. In Florida, Hillsborough County Public Schools developed tests for every subject in every grade level. Tennessee relies only on math and reading scores but ties those scores to evaluations of teachers in all subject areas. However, the Memphis school district allows music, drama, and dance teachers to compile portfolios showing the progress of their students. North Carolina has been developing standardized tests for all subjects, but in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, parents revolted when they learned that much classroom time in kindergarten was being devoted to one-on-one tests of the young students.
Iowa has considered yet another approach. The state had required that, every three years, a supervisor would evaluate experienced teachers (those who have been working more than two years). The state’s education director proposed a policy that these reviews be supplemented with peer reviews each year in between, so teachers receive more timely feedback, enabling them to identify and work on areas of improvement.
Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder, has yet another idea. Gates suggests that researchers investigate why some teachers get better outcomes than others. He proposes observing teachers with practical skills such as bringing order to a classroom and engaging a student who is lagging behind, to identify exactly what these teachers are doing. Then those behaviors could be measured in other teachers and taught to those who lack the skills. Teachers can be trained to give peer reviews based on this type of model. The Bill Melinda Gates Foundation funded a survey of teachers, to get their perspective on what would help them perform better. According to that survey, teachers want to receive more evaluations, from more sources. Most agree that the best measure of their success should be the progress students make during the school year.
From a human resource management perspective, what additional principles do you think school systems should apply to managing teachers’ performance?

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