Thursday, May 31, 2012

Deborah Ball discusses teachers' evaluations and professional development in a 16-min. interview

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

On May 30, 2012, Deborah Loewenberg Ball was interviewed on the "Capital City Recap" show on WILS-1360 (Lansing, Michigan). Ball, a national leader in teacher education, spoke primarily in her role as chair of the Michigan Council on Educator Effectiveness, which recently proposed to Governor Rick Snyder a one-year trial of several differing teacher evaluation programs.

The council, formed in autumn 2011, is tasked with creating tools to improve teacher effectiveness, including a statewide teacher evaluation program. The council examined practices in use across the U.S. and identified a number of programs which hold some promise for the development of a Michigan system. They recently proposed a year-long pilot that includes three evaluation programs and 12 districts, with a mix or urban, rural, suburban, and charter schools.

In the course of the radio interview, Ball stressed the value of a "fair and transparent" structured evaluation system with clearly defined protocols. "One key component is guidelines for principals and others who observe teachers and provide feedback on their performance," she said.

In Michigan, according to Ball, we have not built up a way to let teachers know if they're doing a good job and if there are areas of their work in which they can improve. She foresees the evaluation system, in part, as a process to identify areas or topics that could be improved through teachers' professional development. The goal is effective teaching: "The hallmark of really effective teaching is someone who is able to teach students how to learn well, to create the incentives for them to work on the right things, which helps them improve, and engage them in the material."

"I'm excited about the fact that Michigan has decided to take a leadership role, it's exciting that we're being ambitious about building a system that could make changes in the quality of Michigan students' learning."

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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