As a first year teacher in Salinas, California with the US Teacher Corps in 1971, I was assigned to a school-based task force to figure how to implement a new state teacher evaluation requirement. The requirement, which had been included in a piece of legislation advanced by then-Governor Reagan (as in Ronald)called the “Stull Bill”, stipulated that student achievement had to be included in teacher evaluations.
At the task force’s first orientation meeting I recall wondering what all the commotion was about. As a brand new, somewhat cocky teacher I asked “You mean student learning is not now factored into teacher evaluations and you need a state law to require it?” It seemed a bit absurd at the time that the link had not already been embedded in job ratings. Little did I know at the time how difficult that link can be to determine in valid and reliable ways and how volatile the politics related to the link can become.
Oh well, I happily served on the task force for a year’s worth very long meetings and then headed to Malaysia with the US Peace to work on … you guessed it… a new teacher evaluation and in-service training system based in part upon national standardized tests (That’s a whole other story).
Memories of this early experience (and my perplexity at the time) came rushing back today when I read this excellent analysis in the Hechinger Report. The issues of teacher quality and evaluation from more than 40 years ago are still fresh and unresolved today. Perhaps, as the article suggests, LAUSD will be able to figure it out. Or perhaps there are some answers elsewhere in the country where teacher evaluation is such a hot topic. After more than 40 years is a satisfactory resolution in sight? Or will this be a forever-confounding issue that will ebb and flow with time?