Watching a zombie movie trailer the other day, it struck me how similar the walking dead appear to the principals with whom I work in central Ohio. I'm regularly hearing comments like, "It used to be more fun than this." or "I miss how I used to be able to interact with my staff and students."
Ohio has implemented a new evaluation system called the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES). There are two parts to this evaluation: 50% is based on student growth measures and 50% is based on a teacher performance rubric. The rubric is well-defined and based on known best practice. I have much hope that it could be a tool that stimulates professional discussion and facilitates professional growth. It would, that is, if we had time to actually do it.
Principals must manage a building of hundreds of students, supervise dozens of staff members, and interact with parents on a regular basis. They attend ball games, plays, concerts, and Board meetings after hours. On top of this already full agenda, the state of Ohio has added nearly 200 additional hours of work to every principal (and many, many more hours than this to some) by requiring that every teacher be evaluated every year.
Teacher performance does not drastically change from one year to the next. Requiring a full-blown evaluation with multiple observations, conferences, and "walk-throughs" each year for every teacher is overkill, causing principals to be so overburdened that they can't take time to work the process in an effective manner. Requiring evaluations every 2-3 years would allow for more time to actually make the process work.
Senate Bill 229, now in the Ohio House, would be a step toward setting up a system that could be used to improve teaching and learning. In this bill, principals would only evaluate skilled teachers every other year and accomplished teachers every three years. Teachers who are developing or ineffective would still be evaluated annually. As educators, we want to do our very best. Reducing the number of teachers that must be evaluated each year would make the task more manageable. And maybe my principal friends wouldn't look so much like zombies.