Teacher Evaluation + Common Core = Professional Ownership Incentive

Teacher Evaluation + Common Core = Professional Ownership Incentive

Commonalities Empower Teaching Professionals to Identify, Echo and Amplify Success

While much attention and support are properly directed at teacher evaluation reform efforts across states, the time is here to identify the “why” and the “so what.” I write to focus on the “so what,” but will set the table by first sharing my view on the “why.” The premise is that once the table is properly set, teachers will see ownership opportunity of sitting at the table and driving the “so what.” Teachers do this every day in their classrooms, and they deserve an evaluation tool that specifically supports their craft when evaluation results are identified. That ownership opportunity has the potential for great implications as an incentive.

At Hope Street Group our big idea is that incentives really matter and are the catalyst for change. Whatever form they take, incentives are the most powerful shaper of how people, organizations, institutions and even systems behave, and what they produce. When they motivate the right things, great things happen. When they reward the wrong things, the results can be pretty profoundly bad. This nexus between teacher evaluation and the common core standards makes ripe the ownership incentive to enable great change.


To be clear, far too many teacher evaluation tools are cumbersome, overly time-consuming and do not drive desired outcomes. In fact, that negative description actually perpetuates the perception that too many teacher evaluation tools are actually not intended to highlight success and identify support, but rather are a tool only thoroughly used when an administrator is trying to terminate a teacher. Most current teacher evaluation reform efforts are intended to right that unfortunate negative perception. The intent is noble, but if our education community does not quickly move from the “why” to the “so what” in communications and planning we will not maximize the opportunity broadly to demonstrate that teacher evaluation can be the nexus for success and elevation of the profession.

At Hope Street Group, we recognize the inherent necessity in nailing the “why” with our partners and then provide the “so what.” Our point of view is that strengthening strategy and capacity enables states to realize the necessity and benefit of more broad and diverse teacher voice in their respective reform work. Simply put, a state will not produce an effective teacher evaluation if there are not multiple venues for teachers to bring their expertise to bear. We know this to be true as well for the connection between evaluation and the common core state standards.

So what

States or districts can build a technically sound teacher evaluation product and system fueled by teacher input. The caution, though, is that you must now also nail the “so what.” Similar edicts and through-channels must stay in place to drive the “so what” from teacher voice and teacher practice. This is where common core state standards open the door for profound collaboration and sustainable change with teacher evaluation. Let me ground my commentary in an example to illuminate how:

1 (proper teacher evaluation)


1 (common core state standards)

2 (teacher ownership of success)

1 (proper teacher evaluation)

A teacher evaluation tool is created as described in the “why” section above.
The results of that evaluation as implemented with a math teacher highlight that he excels in instructional preparation and delivery.

1 (common core state standards)

That teacher would reach that designation by preparing and delivering instruction against the common core state standards in math for his respective grade.
The clarity and focus of the common core state standards drives the professional dialogue between the administrator and teacher around content and practice.

2 (teacher ownership of success):

The common core state standards provide the professional space to highlight this success and identify opportunities for this teacher to resource with his colleagues who have not yet arrived at this level of accomplishment against these common core state standards.
This teaching professional is now part of a peer empowerment cycle. A cycle created by a proper teacher evaluation that identified the teacher’s mastery of the standards. A cycle that then matched that teacher with the opportunity to echo and amplify his mastery with peers who teach the same standards.
The commonalities amongst the same standards are the connector to drive the collaboration community that underpins the professional ownership of success.
This equation empowers those teachers in that school who teach those standards to “own” their respective grow together in new ways—possibly in professional learning communities—matching peer success with peer need in a much more acute fashion given the commonality of the standards.

This opportunity can be magnified and scaled across a building to bring a school-wide empowered teaching force that celebrates success and now more clearly incentivizes improvement.

The danger, though, is that we focus too narrowly now only on the evaluation tool reform work without lifting our heads to clearly, consistently and consciously communicate the “so what.”

The ties between teacher evaluation and common core standards can be the linch pin to success and sustainability with the educator ownership incentive. The supports needed for this work and this message are similar and available. We must, however, acknowledge the connections, the needs, and the partners to aide in this next step mission now.

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