Andy Kim is a former GOVERNING staff writer.
Teacher evaluations are often part of education reform, but many evaluation models are criticized for being unfair, arbitrary or ineffective at recognizing poor-performing teachers. In the 2008-2009 school year, forty-three Chicago elementary schools started using a new method to evaluate how well teachers connect with students. The new method evaluates teachers in four areas: planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibility. Recently released findings on Chicago Public Schools' first year implementing the Excellence in Teaching Project found that principals used the new system consistently and a majority of principals had positive attitudes toward the new system. The Consortium on Chicago School Research's findings also showed that more teachers were rated poorly in the ETP's guidelines than in the school district's current checklist system. The Chicago Tribune reports that some CPS officials have expressed interest in overhauling the current evaluation system, which could take a page or two from the ETP. The project continued into the 2009-10 school year, with the addition of 58 more pilot schools.