NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Teacher Evaluations Lack Meaning

January 26, 2011

For the 2009-2010 school year, just 40 out of 1,924 teachers -- or 2 percent -- reviewed by the San Francisco Unified School District received below-satisfactory performance reviews, district records show. Those figures are consistent with recent years: an average of 2.7 percent of teachers evaluated over the past five years received marks of "unsatisfactory" or "needs improvement," records show.  Education scholars say that in a system where all teachers are winners, a crucial gauge of teacher quality is essentially lost, reports the New York Times.

In the push for more teacher accountability, a growing number of school systems nationwide are trying different approaches, says the Times.

  • The value-added method, for example, rates teachers from best to worst using students' test scores.
  • The Los Angeles Times enraged teachers last year when it published a series that included the rankings of about 6,000 elementary school teachers based on a value-added analysis.
  • In south San Jose, administrators at the Oak Grove district say including student achievement in evaluations has helped bolster the district's Academic Performance Index, the state's measure of academic performance.

Source: Jennifer Gollan, "Rethinking Evaluations When Almost Every Teacher Gets an 'A'," New York Times, January 20, 2011.

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