Legislators trying to help save a generation of Milwaukee children from lives of poverty and unemployment want to add a new law to the books in Madison this week.
They should, if they want to make a real difference, also delete one.
Part of the new education bill passed by the Senate the other day, and now being considered by the Assembly, calls for rigorous, annual teacher performance evaluations – something that many districts all across America already supposedly administer.
But not really.
Last year, the New Teacher Project researched teacher evaluations in 12 districts, both big and small, across the country. Methods and frequency of evaluation differed from district to district, but one thing was found to be strikingly similar. Virtually all teachers in the districts studied are told over and over and over again that they are either good or great. In districts that use binary rating systems, for instance, (generally “satisfactory” and “unsatisfactory” categories are used) more than 99% of teachers are given the “satisfactory” designation, according to the researchers.