Baltimore Teachers Union denounces new state evaluation system
The Baltimore Teachers Union has publicly denounced the new Maryland teacher evaluation system as "yet another misguided example of an obsession with test scores," in a statement released Monday from BTU President Marietta English.
Last week, my colleague Liz Bowie reported that the Maryland Council for Educator Effectiveness, appointed by the governor last year to develop a new teacher and principal evaluation system, approved an evaluation framework in which 50 percent of a teacher's job rating will be based on student performance. Of the 50 percent, 20 percent will be decided by the local system.
The new evaluation system will be piloted in seven districts, including Baltimore city and Baltimore County, in the fall. It will coincide with the implementation of critical elements of the BTU contract that introduces a new career and pay ladder in the district. Teachers will navigate their way up the new pay and promotion system based, in part, on satisfactory evaluations.
In addition to state and district leaders from around the state--including city schools CEO Andres Alonso--teachers also sat on the panel. All of the teachers voted against the new system.
Alonso said in the story last week that while he thought the new evaluation system was flawed, "Overall, I think this has been a hard process, but on most elements we have gotten to a consensus." He also said he liked the flexibility given to districts and is comfortable with the model.
English said the fact that all of the teachers on the panel voted against the new evaluation system spoke volumes about how it would be embraced in the district.
She said that the framework "does little to ensure better instruction or learning, and reflects little of the teacher input or collaboration that has brought so much success to Baltimore over the past five years." She also said that deeming a teacher "unsatisfactory" if students don't make predicted gains "is ineffective because it's punitive."
Read below for English's full statement:
Statement from BTU President Marietta English
On Implementing Maryland’s New Teacher Evaluation Plan in Baltimore
BALTIMORE—The teacher evaluation proposal presented by the Maryland Council for Educator Effectiveness is yet another misguided example of an obsession with student test scores. This approach does little to ensure better instruction or learning, and reflects little of the teacher input or collaboration that has brought so much success to Baltimore over the past five years. It is telling that all of the teachers on the MCEE were opposed to the plan.
The MCEE plan would tie 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation rating to students’ standardized test scores. In addition, the proposal would require that teachers be labeled “unsatisfactory” if his or her students failed to make predicted gains on a single test—for all practical purposes, making test scores 100 percent of the teacher’s evaluation. This strategy is ineffective because it is punitive, not productive in helping improve teachers’ skills. Education research consistently shows that test scores should be just one factor of many to be considered when evaluating classroom teachers and should not be weighed so heavily.
Unfortunately, it appears that the MCEE was more concerned with getting it done than getting it right. Teachers’ input on the MCEE was ignored by those who have spent little, if any, time in the classroom. Thankfully, the MCEE plan allows for districts to develop 50 percent of their evaluation plans.
The BTU is ready to begin negotiations on this aspect of the system as we continue to implement the landmark agreement we negotiated last year with Baltimore City Public Schools.
We have enjoyed five years of continuous school improvement in our city, due in large part to collaboration between teachers, parents and administrators on all educational issues. In the future, we hope the MCEE will adopt the spirit of respect, trust and teamwork that has served Baltimore’s teachers and students so well.