erformance Evaluation Ratings Disparity in Turnaround Schools
A review of teacher ratings from 11 Turnaround Schools reveals that ratings are… well… consistently inconsistent. Despite all the training given to administrators, their ratingsĀ  of staff vary widely. In looking at the 11 Turnaround Schools, the data reveals that staff who earned “exemplary” ratings ranged from 48% of a school’s staff to 0%, “proficient” ranged from 100% to 44%, “needs Improvement” from 21% to 0%, and “unsatisfactory” from 5% to 0%.

At one Turnaround School, 100% of those reviewed were regarded as “proficient.”

For all Turnaround Schools, 77% of the teachers were rated as “proficient,” and 12% received exemplary. 9% received ratings of “needs improvement,” and 1% received an “unsatisfactory” rating. 10% of the staff received no rating at all. (All numbers are rounded off.) See the chart of all school ratings here (PDF).

Why Do Only Three Schools With 34% of the Staff Have 83% of the Exemplary Teachers?

In six of the 11 Turnaround Schools — the Greenwood, the Harbor, the Holland, the Dearborn, the Dever, and the Burke — it was virtually impossible to receive an exemplary rating. Only three were given out in total at the six sites. At three other sites — the Kennedy, Orchard Gardens and English High — with only 34% of the total Turnaround staff, they nonetheless garnered 83% of the exemplary ratings.

Notwithstanding the inconsistency, perhaps the administrators at the Kennedy, Orchard Gardens, and English got it right: Their staff deserve those ratings. And perhaps the rest of the administrators got it wrong: There are far more than three exemplary teachers at the six aforementioned Turnaround Schools.

Ratings: Pseudo-Science or Accurate Measure

So what does all of this mean? Ratings are an imperfect pseudo-science. Each school administrator has had the right to hire, recruit, and retain their staff for the last two school years. Each administrator has also had virtually unfettered discretion over the evaluation rating system in that time. Presumably, each of the administrators has been given the same instruction, guidance, and mentoring. So how then are the ratings’ outcome so different? The answer is just maybe that the ratings procedure is not — and maybe cannot be — an exact science.

Safeguards Are Needed

What is instructive here is the following: There may be some very unusual explanation for the disparity in ratings. Or on the other hand, we might take this as caution. If the raters cannot get this consistently right with all the support they have now and all the training that’s offered, then how can we expect them (and others) to continually get it right when the added resources dry up? That’s why we have taken a reasoned approach in negotiations on this topic. Teachers undergoing the performance evaluation process, whether at Turnaround Schools or not, are entitled to a few basic considerations:

  • Quick and timely feedback
  • Sufficient time to improve
  • Notice of their rating during the course of the school year

That’s why we have taken our position in negotiations: We want good teaching and excellent teachers. And we need consistency.