Monday, April 30, 2012

Deborah Ball comments on the Michigan Council on Educator Effectiveness's Interim Progress Report

Tags: assessment, ball, digital signage, k-12, policy, teacher effectiveness

Deborah Ball, a member of the Michigan Council on Educator Effectiveness, spoke about the group's progress in identifying and/or developing a system to evaluate Michigan K-12 teachers. The council released an interim report on April 27 that called for a pilot program that tests several different evaluation processes in 12 school districts, both urban and rural, during the 2012-13 school year. According to an April 28, 2012, article in the Kalamazoo Gazette and posted on MLive:

Ball said the challenge is to come up with a system that works not only in all types of districts, but also for all subjects.

That means the work can’t rely too heavily on standardized tests, which measure student performance only in certain subjects.

“Every teacher wants to do well, and everyone wants students to learn as much as possible,” said Ball, who is dean of the University of Michigan School of Education.

“The goal is to focus on teaching, on the work of the teacher. And there are differences in a way a person teaches band, physical education or French.”

The five-member commission’s work arose from efforts to reform teacher tenure, and legislative calls for improving the way – and frequency – those teachers are evaluated.

Ball told educators and policymakers at Monday’s Governor’s Summit on Education that her goal is to use evaluations to improve all teachers, focusing on the craft of instruction, because too often teachers are left on their own.

According to a report released late Friday, the commission recommends choosing from three teacher observation formats, and for a year looking at how they work in a selection of urban, suburban and rural districts and charter schools.

Ball said classroom observations are key to any system, and that will mean extensive training for the people charged with the work. Ideally teachers would be observed three times a year, and that would be too much for just a principal and assistant principal to do.

Other states have created a group of trained evaluators, including retired teachers and principals and even master teachers from within the building.

Additional coverage was included in the April 27, 2012, Detroit Free Press and the May 1, 2012, Detroit News.

Deborah Loewenberg Ball is the William H. Payne Collegiate Chair, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and dean of the School of Education.

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