The Baltimore Teachers Union issued a statement on September 18 on the new performance-based teacher evaluation system for Baltimore City Public Schools. The establishment of such a system was mandated by Senate Bill 795.
Test-score reliance, the union cautions, over-simplifies the evaluation process. Teachers should be accountable for student progress, the union agrees, but it maintains that "a good evaluation system should be geared to teacher improvement and greater effectiveness."
Any evaluation plan, the union urges, "must be designed not to punish but to identify and correct weaknesses and reinforce strengths so that more effective teaching can occur. Improving schools and raising student achievement will become more of a reality when strategies are put in place to support, enhance and improve teacher performance."
The union calls for setting and enforcing teaching standards, improving teacher education programs, strengthening teacher recruitment efforts, supporting new teachers, and providing ongoing professional development opportunities.
"Nearly 800 new teachers, many with no previous experience or training in the classroom, have been placed in challenging assignments throughout Baltimore's school system," the statement points out.
Some of these new hires have been assigned to "the most difficult-to-teach students in some of the most disadvantaged schools," the document continues. "They are being set-up for failure, not because they are destined to be poor teachers, but because they will not get the support and help they need to develop into good teachers who can produce successful students." Meeting with these new teachers once or twice a month, as the school system intends, will not be enough, the union says.
New teachers, it says, "need serious and sustained help and support on a regular basis."