[lg policy] Trend Watch: How Can Teachers of ELLs Be Fairly Evaluated?

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 27 14:46:57 UTC 2010

Trend Watch: How Can Teachers of ELLs Be Fairly Evaluated?

By Mary Ann Zehr on July 26, 2010 1:09 PM |

Teacher evaluation protocols need to be better tailored to gauge the
effectiveness of special education teachers and specialists who work
with English-language learners, a research and policy brief from the
National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality says. The brief
makes the case that teacher effectiveness is different for specialized
teachers, such as those who work primarily with students with
disabilities and ELLs, and those elements need to be spelled out in
evaluation processes.

The issue is important, the brief indicates, because federal policy
has spurred some states to change their policies to put a greater
emphasis on teacher evaluations. States received extra points in the
federal Race to the Top funding competition if they linked teacher
evaluation to student achievement data. The brief mentions that
Illinois, Tennessee, and Rhode Island are among the states that
approved such policy changes.

"Although many teacher evaluation instruments explicitly address
teachers' attention to meeting the needs of 'diverse' learners, they
may not attend to the special skills and strategies that are required
to balance the acquisition of English with the affirmation of
students' home culture and language," the brief says. "Teacher
evaluation protocols should include and affirm teachers' abilities to
navigate this territory."

The brief says that the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, a
professional development model promoting strategies for working with
ELLs, could provide a starting point for states to include information
about what it takes to be effective with ELLs in their teacher
evaluation systems. Critics of policies that link teacher evaluations
of ELL specialists with students' scores on standardized tests contend
that such tests are not valid and reliable for ELLs so the scores on
such tests shouldn't be used to gauge teacher effectiveness with such

This is the first publication I've seen that examines in some depth
how evaluations of ELL specialists could be improved. The authors of
the brief call for evaluation protocols to provide a checklist or
rubric that includes specific standards for ELL specialists. They also
say that protocols should account for evidence of teachers'
contributions to student learning other than only how their students
perform on standardized tests.

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