New CPS Teacher Evaluation System Debated

Marion Herbert's picture
Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A group of education policy and research academics called on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Monday to hold off on the widespread implementation of a new teacher evaluation system.

They instead introduce the system through smaller pilot programs that would help determine how much of a teacher’s assessment should be based on student achievement.

“We are urging (Chicago Public Schools) to look more carefully at the research across the nation,” said Kevin Kumashiro, professor of Asian American Studies and Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “What we’re saying is ‘You don’t need to rush a launch in 2012.’ How about moving forward cautiously and smartly. Pilot with a small group to see if the measures you’re using are reliable, valid and useful.”

The group, made up of 88 education professors and researchers from 15 local universities who call themselves CReATE, delivered a letter to the mayor, CPS schools chiefJean-Claude Brizardand the city's board of education Monday, detailing their concerns and offering their expertise. They feel CPS’ planned evaluation system is “flawed” and therefore needs to be tested in the field.

The planned evaluation system  for Chicago Public Schools teachers is part of a sweeping state education reform package called the Performance Evaluation Reform Act that was signed into law in 2010. About half the district, or 300 schools, must implement the evaluation system by this fall and the remainder by 2013. The rest of the state has until 2014.

The law also requires student growth or academic improvement be a "significant factor" in rating teachers and principals. That would be a major departure from how annual reviews have been conducted in the past and is a subject of ongoing negotiations between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union. Both sides are seeking to address issues including how to assess student achievement and growth, how much student growth should count in a teacher’s evaluation, and what to do about educators who teach subjects not measured by state tests, such as social studies and art.

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