Thursday, February 16, 2012

An Evaluation Architect Says Teaching Is Hard, but Assessing It Shouldn't Be

SchoolBook visited Ms. Danielson in Princeton, N.J., where she has a private education consulting practice, and followed up with a telephone call. Here are highlights from the interviews ...

Sixteen years ago, Charlotte Danielson, an Oxford-trained economist, developed a description of good teaching that became the foundation for attempts by federal and state officials and school districts to quantify teacher performance.

The Danielson method — articulated in her book, “Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching” (ASCD, 2007) — describes good teaching using numerous criteria within four broad areas of performance: the quality of questions and discussion techniques; a knowledge of students’ special needs; the expectations set for learning and achievement; and the teacher’s involvement in professional development activities.

“If all you do is judge teachers by test results,” Ms. Danielson told Ginia Bellafante in an interview for a Big City column in the Metropolitan section of The New York Times last month, “it doesn’t tell you what you should do differently.”

As the standoff over adoption of a teacher evaluation system moves toward an Albany-style showdown this week, both the teachers’ unions and state and district officials in New York largely agree on the Danielson method, but are struggling over its implementation.

Ms. Danielson, a West Virginia native, studied history at Cornell before doing graduate work at Oxford. She spent five years working as an economist with Chatham House in London, the Council of Economic Advisers in Washington and other organizations before making the leap to teaching.

Read the interview HERE.

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