Monday, April 23, 2012

At Governor's Education Summit, keynote speaker Deborah Ball says teacher evaluations should be used to help teachers

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

Deborah Loewenberg Ball delivered the keynote address at the April 23, 2012, Governor's Education Summit. Ball is head of the Michigan Commission on Educator Effectiveness, tasked with providing tools for K-12 teacher evaluation.

As reported by Dave Murray on April 23, 2012, for

Ball said it’s a myth that poverty and other societal problems are so overwhelming that schools can’t be successful. She believes that students in such challenging environments can be taught by people especially trained to work with them. She told the gathered educators and policy makers that there are two schools of thought when it comes to school reform: one that focuses on teachers and the other on the craft of teaching.

She said people who focus on teachers look at recruiting and selection, rewards and sanctions.

But Ball said it’s more important to look at what is needed to become a good teacher, because those skills don’t come naturally

Ball often hears that teachers say they hit their stride after several years, working out issues on their own in their classroom.

“There are 3.5 million teachers in the United States. You don’t build skillful teaching one individual, idiosyncratically figuring it out on his or her own in a way that can serve all children well,” she said.

“We have a scale problem here. We’re not talking about a small occupation where just a few extremely talented people can be recruited to do the work. We’re talking about America’s largest workforce. And if it’s not too impolite to say, it means that quite ordinary people need to do this incredible work, and they deserve to have the skills and the talent to do that work for children.”

The commission was expected to have a report by the end of this month. Ball said an interim progress report is expected on Friday, outlining what the group has been learning and setting up timelines for the different aspects of its work.
She said the group is looking at what other states have done to measure student growth and where Michigan is in terms of being ready to track student learning, such as which exams are offered at which grades.

Additional coverage is in the April 23, 2012, Detroit Free Press.

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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