Advisory Panel Responses

A critical component of this research project was the active involvement of local education stakeholders through four state-based advisory panels. These panels, which The New Teacher Project convened in each of the study states of Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois and Ohio, were established in order to ensure that The Widget Effect reflected diverse viewpoints and the knowledge and perspective of local and state-level leaders. See a list of the advisory panel members »

The advisory panels—including more than 50 district and state officials and 25 teachers’ union representatives—brought to bear participants’ substantial experience and expertise to inform the study methodology, findings and recommendations. In the end, panel members were invited to submit unedited written responses to the following questions:

  1. Do you believe that the advisory panel structure has been a helpful approach to studying the issue of teacher dismissal for poor instructional performance?
  2. To what extent do you agree with TNTP’s conclusion that all stakeholders must come together to create more credible and meaningful ways of differentiating teacher performance if we are to know which teachers should be retained, developed, and dismissed?
  3. After participating in this process, what next step do you see for you or your organization to ensure that instances of ineffective instruction are addressed? What step would you most like to see other parties take?

Responses from the Advisory Panel

Cincinnati Federation of Teachers Tim Kraus, President

1. The Advisory Panel Structure is a useful way for an organization like TNTP to receive Work-in-Progress feedback on a study. I think our panel conversation was frank and helpful in creating a context for the work TNTP is doing. Whenever one does a study of this nature there is a tendency to make the topic of the study a “silver bullet” that will address all problems. Teacher evaluation, dismissal, and retention is an important issue for educators in America to address, but I do not think this issue can be studied without placing it in the context of our overall education system and how it is structured. As long as we force educators to work in “factory-like” settings that work at cross purposes with needs of 21st Century learning, improved teacher performance evaluation will only be partially effective, at best.

2. I agree that all stakeholders need to come together to create a more effective teacher evaluation system. Cincinnati did try to do just that when we created our Teacher Evaluation System. Our system is a living, breathing structure that has changed for the better over time.

3. We are constantly looking for ways to improve and build upon our evaluation system. The difficulty for us is that we do not have many other national examples to follow that have as detailed or as comprehensive of an approach to teacher evaluation. Comprehensive evaluation systems like ours are very expensive to run and we can only evaluate 1/5 of the teachers each year. If this is where our country is going we will need to find many, many more dollars to do this, particularly if every teacher is comprehensively evaluated every year. Again, I caution us all to consider changing the larger context of school structure first.