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Poll: Public Wants to See Teacher Evaluations, Performance Pay in California
posted by: Alix | November 21, 2011, 05:49 PM   

The battle between teacher union push-back and the call to make public school teacher evaluations available to the public has been a topic of debate for over a year in California. Union officials claim the information should not be available to outsiders, while proponents argue that it is a critical part of creating a culture of transparency and accountability in the public schools. As the debate continues, a new bipartisan poll by the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Times reveals that the public not only favors releasing the information to the public, but districts should also factor in student test scores in the creation of teacher evaluations.

According to the data, 58% of respondents said the quality of public schools would be improved if the public had access to teachers' reviews. Just 23% said it would not help or could make things worse. Authors of the survey claim the data is in line with Californians' instincts to bring corporate ideas to public schools in an effort to improve student outcomes.

With regard to performance pay and innovative pay scale models, nearly 60% of voters said test scores should count for at least 30% of a teacher's evaluation. Respondents also said they want a range of measures used, including parent feedback and classroom observation, to determine an instructor's effectiveness, similar to a value-added system.

The California case study indicates a public shift in these policies as in line with other reform-minded groups and the U.S. Department of Education. From coast to coast, an increasing number of states and localities have begun using student test scores as an element in evaluating educators. According to the National Council on Teacher Quality, thirteen states factor in student growth as an evaluation measurement, up from four states just two years ago.

Despite these changing policies and attitudes, teacher unions have still resisted both transparency and performance pay initiatives. One union official said that while the public is justified in wanting to see change and accountability, "quantifiable productivity" doesn't "translate" to education. He did not comment on creating a system that would translate to public school teachers under his reasoning.

While the poll provides some insight into the changing views of the public, authors go one step further in calling it a mandate for school reform and transparency. Author of the survey, Dominic J. Brewer, associate dean of research and faculty affairs at USC's Rossier School of Education asserted, "There's clearly no teacher-bashing sentiment, just a desire for some changes."

What do you think about the results of the poll?
Comment below.

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