Editor’s Note: The letter below was signed by 36 of 41 teachers at a school and delivered to their school leader last week. All identifying features of the letter have been removed. The letter speaks clearly to the unfairness of the current evaluation process as implemented by certain cavalier administrators.
June 17, 2016
Teacher evaluations can be an important tool in the development of educators and a part of ensuring a quality education for all students. However, at ________________ teacher evaluations have been used in a way that is detrimental to morale and does not take advantage of its potential to improve instruction at the school. In the latest round of Summative Evaluations, several teachers received less than Proficient ratings on at least one standard, and, again teachers were surprised by their ratings. Conversations about these ratings did not occur beforehand. As BPS unilaterally moves forward with using test scores as part of teacher ratings, we are also concerned about the future of evaluation experiences.
Last year and at the beginning of this year, through our union representatives, we have asked that you and your administrative team talk with teachers, who you feel are not Proficient in any standard. These conversations could alert teachers to possible shortcomings in their practice, as well as allow teachers to make necessary changes before receiving an evaluation. Conversations like these not only make improvements in practice more likely, they are also respectful of teachers’ hard work.
We believe that rating teachers as less than Proficient without discussions beforehand about what could be done to avoid that rating is disrespectful of the hard work done on a daily basis by educators at _______. It also leads us to conclude that evaluations at the school are arbitrary and are not helpful. We ask that instead of pointing out flaws from above, you join with us in the difficult, but rewarding, task of educating our students. Many of us did receive Proficient ratings, but we all stand together in the belief that educators should be shown the courtesy of a conversation.
In order to avoid this miscommunication and the damage it does to our school culture, we ask you to do the following:
- come to an agreement with us about an appropriate amount of time to inform teachers about the possibility of a less than Proficient rating;
- work with teachers who are in danger of receiving a less than Proficient rating to schedule additional observations, during which the teacher can demonstrate improved skills;
- provide teachers with specific steps that can be taken in order to avoid a less than Proficient rating.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts about improving communication and the evaluation process.