An innovative teacher evaluation plan, developed with the participation of the teachers union in Toledo, Ohio, was the focus of the final stop on the first day of the “Education and the Economy” bus tour.
Secretary Duncan paid a visit late Wednesday to the Toledo Federation of Teachers union hall. There, along with 75 teachers, union officials, local elected officials and community members, Duncan observed a mock peer-review panel presentation of the Toledo Plan, 2001 winner of the “Innovations in American Government Award” competition co-sponsored by Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Council for Excellence in Government, with funding from the Ford Foundation.
Brochures describe the program as an “intensive model of evaluation and mentoring” for intern teachers…“aimed at those most in need of professional help – beginning teachers and those experienced teachers in trouble.”
But Dal Lawrence, former president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers, had a simpler description.
“We want to find out who can teach in Toledo and who can’t,” Lawrence told Secretary Duncan. “We want to give enough expert mentoring and coaching to people so that they can fly on their own.”
During the presentation, two Toledo Public Schools intern consultants, who are assigned to newly hired Toledo teachers (interns) for two semesters, evaluated two former interns, Matthew Ziegler and Amanda Carr (fictitious name). The consultants’ summary evaluation reports were presented to an Intern Board of Review composed of five teachers and four administrators.
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Their reports, based largely on interns’ progress toward meeting specific goals as determined by the consulting teachers, included descriptions and evidence of the interns’ performance in the areas of teaching procedures, classroom management, subject knowledge and personal characteristics/professional responsibility.
Upon receiving a recommendation from the consulting teachers on the interns’ future employment status, – “yes” for Ziegler, “no” for Carr – the panel had an opportunity to question the presenters and discuss the interns’ performance before conferring and voting on the recommendations.
The dialogue drew out specific areas where the two teachers were either performing well. For Ziegler: “Weekly goals are outlined and posted on the blackboard, uses baskets to distribute materials quickly, spirals lessons through increasing levels of complexity.” For Carr: “Students are not engaged consistently, high standards of work are not encouraged, class rules and consequences are posted but not enforced consistently or fairly.”
Afterwards, the panel voted to accept the recommendation in both cases; Ziegler was approved to receive a second one-year contract and released from the intern program, while Carr’s performance was deemed unsatisfactory, with no offer of a second-year contract.
Next, Lawrence asked Ziegler (who went on to become a math teacher after his real evaluation and was in the audience) to stand to applause from the crowd.
Secretary Duncan joked with Ziegler, saying “That must be a little odd – watching your own life like that.”
“I’ve followed this model closely for years, and this was a chance to learn and pay very close attention to the hard work, collaboration, and thoughtfulness that went into this process,” Duncan said.