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Teacher evaluations

HISD is gearing up to implement a new teacher evaluation system, but not without a fight first.

The Houston Federation of Teachers has launched what is expected to be a protracted battle to void the new evaluation. It starts with a hearing Wednesday before an attorney, who will hear evidence from the union and the district administration.

Union president Gayle Fallon said she anticipates losing but vows to appeal to the Texas education commissioner. The case could set a state precedent for districts that tinker with how they rate teachers.

“We have some really good arguments,” said the union’s attorney, Martha Owen. “I’m hesitant to predict (the outcomes). The commissioner hasn’t ruled in cases like this.”

[…]

Fallon contends that the Houston Independent School District violated state law in designing the evaluation. Among other problems, she argues, the district didn’t sufficiently take teacher input into account.

Texas law says districts may deviate from the state appraisal if the replacement is “developed by” district and school committees made up of teachers and community members. At least 87 percent of districts use the state model, according to the Texas Education Agency.

HISD officials and their consultants at The New Teacher Project have said they involved 2,600 teachers and 1,500 administrators, parents and community members in designing the appraisal. District- and school-level committees met and teachers could fill out online surveys.

I know I discussed the challenges of evaluating teachers when I interviewed Gayle Fallon last year. I don’t think we really have a handle on what the “best” way to do this is. I guess the way I look at this is this: How much faith do you have in the employee evaluation system they have where you work? Obviously, there has to be some way to do this, but if the people who are being evaluated by it don’t have faith in it, isn’t that a problem?

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