I am honored to be a part of an organization that provides opportunities for teachers to demonstrate their educational knowledge and a passion for teaching in the urban community. Just recently I was awarded a fellowship with Teach Plus and I will be participating in a research cohort that focuses on educational policies. During my tenure with Teach Plus I will be sifting through educational documents, after educational documents, after educational documents! While this may sound like a daunting task to most, I am excited about the challenge. I know I will learn a great deal about my profession, but more importantly I will be able to use my knowledge to help other educators understand the ins and outs of education. One topic that seems to be in the news quite often is the evaluation tool called the RISE. 

Now, while I am a supporter of performance evaluations and I find evaluations helpful, I do understand why teachers are the concerned with the evaluation process. The Indianapolis Teaching Policy Fellows of 2012 published a white paper titled "The Six Principles of Teacher Evaluation". The fellows published this paper in hopes that the recommendations " will help guide proactive communication between districts and teacher and enable a positive transition to the new evaluation system" (The Six Principles of Teacher Evaluation, Summer 2012). So, here are the six principles the group decided on: 

1. The basics of the evaluation should be laid out clearly at the start of the school year and should not change. 
2. The student assessments that will be used in the evaluation need to be identified by the start of the year. 
3. The tests that will be used in the evaluation must measure the growth that occurs in a teacher's classroom. 
4. Evaluations and observations must be linked to meaningful professional development. 
5. Evaluators should be trained to ensure inter-rater reliability, and teachers should know how evaluators are selected and assigned. 
6. Teachers should know how evaluations will impact their career. 

The paper goes into further detail by providing teacher perspectives on the new teacher evaluation system, suggestions for districts leaders, and essential questions that should be answered in advance before a teacher is evaluated. These principles prompt a dialogue that should be taking place between administrators and teachers. Administrators need to continue to be transparent with their teachers and teachers need to be well educated on how they are being evaluated. Furthermore, teachers need to welcome the evaluation rather than fear it.  Once both sides are on the same page, the uncertainty behind the evaluation will vanish and everyone can get back to why most individuals go into education--to teach our kids. 

Megan Cooper 
Guest Blogger
Indianapolis, Indiana 

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