Teachers: New Rating System At 100 Schools

A hundred Chicago schools are using a new teacher rating system, in the
hopes of creating a more useful, fair system.  Already, according to
this Chicago News Cooperative story (Schools Test a New Tool for Improving Evaluation of
), the ratings are start to change at the participating
schools. But which schools are involved, and how's it really working for the teachers involved?


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  • still looking for the list of schools, but in the meantime here's the link to the initiative, in case you're interested:


  • also, reporter crystal yednak says that the program is going to expand to 300 schools in the near future, or at least that's the plan. will your school be next?

  • here's the list -- 40 schools in year two, 60 in year one, plus another 200 in the works -- is your school considering doing this? would you recommend it or avoid it at all costs?


  • Very informative; I'm passing your blog along my teacher friends. This entry is featured on today's "Hot on ChicagoNow:"

  • If principals are not given the time to observe, it's all meaningless.

    Couldn't agree more. The higher ups have principals sitting in their offices staring at test score spreadsheets too much. I have been observed by my boss a total of 20 mins. over the past four years! Also, some of those visits were "scheduled" I would like a return to my first year of teaching, when my boss would walk in at least once a month unannounced, expect lesson plan copies, the WRITTEN grade record, seating chart, and a copy of the current teaching sheet/book, etc. for that particular lesson. If some some or god forbid all of that was missing...well gee

    I get written up. I still have those teacher infraction sheets from 2000. I guess principals didn't have to troll emails or numbers data then to the extent that they have to now.

    My thing is, make the teacher pay for messing up. If they don't have their ducks in a line as LEAST as far as the paperwork (not really subjective in my opinion) then they should forfeit some pay to an after school budget line. Three strikes, it's time for a hearing and possible termination.

    There is too much good talent in the reassigned tchr pool and there are too many teachers who suck who may as well walk around the school with a boom box playing Hammer's U Can't Touch This while wearing a gold medallion that says "TENURED"

  • In reply to cklaus76:

    "If principals are not given the time to observe, it's all meaningless."


    Especially since this is a one-size-fits-all approach.

    There are 165 teachers at my large high school, and about 170 days of student attendance. To do one pre-observation conference; one classroom observation; and one post-observation conference for each teacher would consume between one-quarter and one-third of the principal's day. And he would still only visit each teacher once during the school year.

    Now, while that may not sound like much, it assume no "crises" arise that need his immediate attention. Anytime the Board or the Area Office requests, he must go downtown for a meeting or produce some report or paperwork ASAP.

    He already manages a school with a $30 million budget (not that he sees that money). He has over 200 employees under his supervision, must communicate with more than 2600 students and their parents, and meet with community and civic organizations.

    And since he doesn't have a Union contract, he'll have to take 15 furlough days!

    This may well be a good evaluation program, but how does it work into my principal's day?

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    Danny: I agree. But I think it comes back to an issue of priorities. Why is it that a principal has to drop everything to sit in another 2 hour powerpoint meeting downtown rather than spend their day being an instructional leader?

    I know several principals who have the clout to just say, "Sorry, I'm too busy with the actually duties of running a school, I'm skipping this one..." but how many principals can/have the courage to do that?
    xian from CORE

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    A lot of misconceptions and misinformation in this commentary. . .

    First, the Excellence in Teaching Project has nothing to do with performance pay or incentives. That's the Teacher Advancement Program funded by the federal TIF grant.

    Second, the Excellence in Teaching Project is going into its 3rd year and is based on Charlotte Danielson's program, which is highly regarded by teachers and teachers unions as an effective way to help teachers improve their instruction in collaboration with evaluators. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the amendments to the School Code on teacher evaluation, which, by the way, does nothing to affect tenure rights of teachers.

    Third, it's not just that principals are called away that makes it difficult for them to meaningfully evaluate teachers (or other staff for that matter); it's that meaningful evaluation is extremely time-instensive and cannot be done well by one person, (which may explain why the new law permits people other than principals to evaluate).

    Fourth, the principal's role as instructional leader is a rather recent one and training of principals as evaluators has been pretty sketchy. (By comparison, the Excellence in Teaching Project has rigorous training requirements and an on-going external evaluator.) The new law requires evaluators complete a specialized training program in evaluating teachers before evaluating teachers.

    Fifth, as I understand it, evaluators are being evaluated in the Excellence in Teaching Project. External raters are employed to evalute some of the same teachers as principals and the ratings are being compared.

    This isn't disgusting or something teachers should fear. . . this is a giant leap forward, which, preliminary reports are indicating, helps teachers. . . you should embrace it.

  • Actually, John, state law was changed just this spring to allow this. It was part of the state's efforts to "win" the "Race to the Top" federal grants.

    It isn't a coincidence that Chicago must begin the program by September 2012. The current contract expires in the summer of 2012, and as the U.S. Constitution forbids states to "impair the obligation of contracts," no new law can affect our current contract.

    But unless the law is changed before 2012, the next contract must have language that conforms to the new law. One concession the Union got was that only half its schools (300) must have a new evaluation in program for the 2012-13 school year; and all schools must have it in place the following year. Also, the names have changed. There will be no "superior" rating in the new system.

  • The issue is that teaching is one of the most all consuming professions in the world. If we do not draw barriers, we could literally work 24/7/365 and still not do everything possible for the benefit of the students.

    Most teachers have no problem putting in a little extra for students. The problem is that there is no trust remaining for administrators and the system in general to assign our time. If I'm going to spend some of my own time for the benefit of the children, I would like to be ensured that it won't be wasted in hollow PD, compiling poorly managed data, filling out redundant paperwork.

    Furthermore, I shouldn't have to waste my time during the day either. I understand that it may happen at other jobs, but fundamentally, to waste teacher time is to waste taxpayer money and injure the education of children.

    xian from CORE

  • I heard Danielson speak at the beginning of the school year. She stated very clearly that CPS is not using her rubric correctly. In fact, she said her framework and rubric were never meant to be used as a formal evaluation tool. She designed it to be used as a conversation tool to be used among educators to help improve thier teaching.

    Jim from CORE

  • Danielson's framework does rate teachers in numerous components and the ratings are meets or does not meet. The ratings are unsatisfactory, basic, proficient and distinguished. Coming to a summative rating from those is what is difficult.

    I didn't see Danielson speak but don't doubt that she emphasized the professional development aspects of her rubric. Ratings, whatever form they take, are supposed to development employees. But I do doubt that Danielson would say that a 3rd year teacher with a smattering of unsatisfactory ratings and mostly basic ratings is someone a school district should keep. I also doubt that Danielson would mean that what principals learn through her rubric could or should be disregarded in a summative rating.

    Despite the cynics who comment on this blog, the Excellence in Teaching Program has been far better for teachers and schools than the absurd check list and varying principal-defined standards of performance in use in most CPS schools. That model really leaves teachers vulnerable. And we should be happy to see it go.

  • When I spoke with her after her presentation I asked her and she told me that personally. She said that she feels it may be being misused and her reasoning behind it was to always use for coaching. I have no problem with it being used if coaching becomes a part of evaluation. I don't think this is always true in CPS.

  • Dear Diogenes:

    I can't speak for all teachers or districts, but I am one of those mid-life career changers who worked in private industry for 18 years before going into teaching 10 years ago. Yes, we had evaluations in the private workplace, but I always knew that the person doing the evaluating actually knew something about my skills, contributions, challenges, and efforts. I cannot say this is true for CPS evaluations or evalutators. Fortunately, at my age, I understand and can reflect on my own strengths and weaknesses and make changes where are needed. I should hope that all professionals do the same. I am really not sure anyone can take a "snap shot" of a classroom and know whether someone is a good or bad teacher (just as a single assessment cannot tell us that a student is good or bad); there are simply too many variables that are involved in a fluid classroom environment for any kind of "meeting/not meeting" simplicity.

  • No, we don't want an award, just a little recognition that we do these things. You, the public, want to believe that our day ends promptly when the last bell rings. This is not the case.
    The other thing we would like is a little respect. Something that is in very short supply these days. Is it any wonder the students find it hard to respect us when their parents don't either?

    We know that other professions take work home as well. We, again, would just like to see the same recognition as well. During the school year, many of us neglect our own families to teach yours. But, I guess that is okay since you don't know our families. We often have to tell our own kids that the movie they want to see can't be seen because we have to rework our lesson plan for the following week because someone above has decided, at the last minute, that we have to include some insane directive and we have to figure out how to suspend what we planned to include it. Plus, make it fun for our students who think the only thing we like to do is test the heck out of them.
    That, my friend, is the sort of sacrifice we do for our calling. And, no-I am not complaining. I have said it before, I absolutely LOVE what I do everyday. I live for it.

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