Seizing the window of transition: Common Core and teacher evaluations


What does the Common Core have to do with teacher evaluations?  

And what do teacher evaluations have to do with the Common Core?

In past posts, I’ve talked a lot about the importance of looking at the Common Core and educator effectiveness intiatives together, but I know many educators still struggle with the idea - and these questions. 

So what do they have to do with each other?

In a recent Brookings blog post, Harvard’s Tom Kane put it this way: implementing the Common Core without considering teacher evaluation measures is like dieting without a bathroom scale and mirror. 

Kane’s analogy is spot on – just as no one would try to lose weight without a way to measure progress, major education reforms like the Common Core need effective evaluation and feedback systems in place in order to stick. 

But of course there’s more to it than that. 

Here are three recommendations for school and district leaders to consider when implementing these initiatives together:

  1. Fully align your framework to the Standards.

    The CCSS outline what students need to know and be able to do, but not how teachers need to teach. According to recommendations developed by the US Department of Education’s Reform Support Network, observations and feedback must reflect the shifts in instructional practices necessary for student mastery.

  2. Be sure your evaluation system balances growth with accountability.

    Research has repeatedly shown that teachers need meaningful feedback in order to grow. Punitive evaluations are unproductive, which is why we believe it’s critical to develop systems of growth, not "gotcha."

  3. Find ways to use technology to support teachers' growth in implementing the Common Core - specifically within the observation process.

    Because research has now widely shown the inadequacies of in person observation systems and teachers’ inability to fully accept and incorporate feedback into practice, consider having your teachers film themselves while leading lessons. In his work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations’ Measures of Effective Teaching Project, Kane found that using video for observation provides a piece of “common evidence” to serve as a reference point for meaningful feedback, coaching and self-reflection.

Implementing the Common Core can be daunting enough on its own. But as Kane put it, “seize this window of transition” to align evaluation systems so that teachers get the support they need to push student achievement. We couldn’t agree more.


Dr. Michael Moody is the Founder and CEO of Insight Education Group. His experiences as a classroom teacher, school and district administrator and consultant have given him a unique perspective on both the challenges and opportunities in education today. Contributing regularly to the blog, Michael is always excited to start or join a conversation about helping educators grow. 


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