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Evaluating English Teachers
"Teachers understand the importance of student test data and defined checklists or rubrics, but how should such data and instruments be used to evaluate teachers and define teacher quality?"

This question is posed in the editor's message from the February 2014 issue of English Leadership Quarterly. The themed-issue "Evaluating English Teachers" presents several articles showing the need for formative assessment that will help teachers grow professionally and improve their practice.

NCTE believes that multifaceted teacher evaluation is a significant component for student, teacher, and school improvement and advocates strongly for a system that emphasizes professional growth. English teachers must continually study their subject along with the craft of teaching in their efforts to make learning happen as described in the NCTE Position Statement on Teacher Evaluation.

Amanda Turcotte shares in "Teacher Evaluation and the Perils of a Perfectionist" the importance of revamping teacher evaluation systems: more accurately tying teacher quality to student performance; creating a fair, transparent evaluation process.

In her article "Beyond the Rubric: English Teachers' Perspectives on Teacher Quality and Evaluation," Erinn Bentley shares teachers' definitions of teacher quality, which include caring about students; realizing you are teaching "real" people; making learning relevant to diverse students, and modifying instruction for diverse students.

As Allison Varnes warns in "Trying to Forget about the Numbers," when one-shot evaluation checklists are tied to scores, which are tied to job security and salary, it's a given that teachers will focus more on the actual numbers than what can be learned through the evaluation process.

In her article "Lessons Learned from a First Post-Observation Conference," Stacey Reece explains how post-observation conferences -- when done right -- can work as meaningful formative assessment that helps English teachers grow professionally and improve their practice.

The 2012 NCTE Research Policy Brief on Evaluating English/Language Arts Teachers reminds us that "teacher quality" is a complex, multi-dimensional phenomenon involving teacher decisions about preparation and planning, instructional practices, and professionalism.

Peter Smagorinsky in "Authentic Teacher Evaluation: A Two-Tiered Proposal for Formative and Summative Assessment," makes a suggestion which is quite appropriate for our times: "Assessing teachers according to what effective teachers do, rather than according to which assessment means are most cost-effective and most amenable to reduction to single scores, seems appropriate" (p. 168).

What is your experience with teacher assessment and evaluation?

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A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts