Providing Pennsylvania’s children with excellent teachers is the first step in building great schools. Common sense tells us that great teachers matter, and decades of research confirms this intuition. Teachers have a bigger impact on students’ success than anything else at school. Regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds, students assigned to great teachers can learn about three times more in one year than those assigned to the least effective teachers.
Unfortunately, in Pennsylvania we have no uniform way to identify great teachers or support their growth. Our evaluations aren’t consistently linked to student learning, don’t reflect differences in teacher effectiveness and aren’t fundamental to school decision making. As a result, top teachers are seldom recognized for their success, struggling teachers don’t receive the support they need to hone their craft and our students continue to lag behind.
To deliver on the promise of a top-notch education for all our kids, we must develop and implement a statewide teacher evaluation framework. This framework should incorporate student achievement and emphasize robust observation, evaluation and feedback to develop and support excellent instruction in all of our schools. Our report, Measuring Teacher Effectiveness, outlines PennCAN’s recommendations for evaluating PA’s educators.