New Teacher Project again offers puerile solution to 'problem' of teacher evaluation

As many in Chicago and elsewhere know, the so-called "New Teacher Project," one of the many many corporate fronts staffed by veterans of programs like "Teach for America," has been pontificating on how to reform teacher evaluation. As usual, the reform means doing what the corporate convention wisdom dictates. What Chicago readers may not know about the New Teacher Project is that it was so-to-be-former Chicago school chief Ron Huberman main way of figuring out how to solve the teacher recruitment situation and, as such, was at least a strong force behind the purging of veteran teachers between June and August 2010, killing at least some of them. One of the chieftans of the New Teacher Project was Michelle Rhee, recently displaced as Chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools. After three years of tyrannizing teachers and parents who disagreed with her, Rhee was ousted when her mentor, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, lost a recent election.

Now, some of the foremost scholars in the USA have taken a closer look at one of the current programs being touted by the New Teacher Project. And it comes up short, The report, widely quoted in the corporate media, is called "Teacher Evaluation 2.0." According to a study of the New Teacher Project's report by the Think Tank Review Project of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Here is the executive summary of their critique, which was issued on November 15, 2010.

Teacher Evaluation 2.0 – An Upgrade That Isn’t.... Report relies on truisms, conventional wisdom rather than cutting-edge research (

BOULDER, CO (November 16, 2010) – A new review of The New Teacher Project’s recent report Teacher Evaluation 2.0 finds that the report’s recommendations for teacher evaluation boil down, for the most part, to truisms and conventional wisdom, lacking a supporting presentation of scholarly evidence. The report was reviewed for the ‘Think Twice’ Think Tank Review Project by Vanderbilt University professor H. Richard Milner. The Project is housed in the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

In his review, Milner notes that the report suffers from several additional problems. Among them: It assumes teacher evaluation reform can be a panacea for resolving far greater educational problems. He finds that the report has a misplaced emphasis on standardized tests and value-added assessment while ignoring more than a decade of evidence detailing the limitations on the use of these measures. He also finds that the report doesn’t take into account a variety of resource limitations, especially in under-resourced and understaffed schools, an omission that will likely thwart implementation of at least some of its recommendations.

The heart of Teacher Evaluation 2.0 consists of six design standards for evaluation: an annual process; clear, rigorous expectations; multiple measures; multiple ratings; regular feedback; and significance — that is, consequences for the teachers being evaluated. The report argues that current teacher evaluation practices result in evaluations that are too infrequent, too unfocused, and too broad (offering only “pass/fail” or other binary options instead of more nuanced ratings).

Further the report asserts that current evaluations are unhelpful to teachers seeking to improve classroom practice and performance and are not backed up by meaningful consequences for poor performance. It advocates for evaluations to have high stakes and be used in decisions about teacher firing, promotion, tenure, and reappointment. The report thus combines commonly accepted ideas with the current push for high-stakes policies, but in neither case is the report adequately buttressed with research findings.

The report includes no explicit account of how its proposed standards were derived. Readers will find anecdotal examples to illuminate the proposed standards, but these are offered without any indication of how they were selected, whether they are truly representative of what U.S. schools do, and how they can be generalized. “No evidence is presented in this report to suggest that these examples have proven effective or that they exemplify the desired traits,” Milner writes.

The result, Milner concludes, is a report that “does not tell us anything that is not already suggested or asserted in the teacher evaluation discourse,” but one that then relies for its recommendations “on appeals to common sense rather than actual empirical evidence.” Policymakers might find some suggestions in it useful, but if they implement them, they should do so “only with deliberate caution.”

Find Richard Milner’s review on the NEPC website at:

Find Teacher Evaluation 2.0 by The New Teacher Project on the web at:

The ‘Think Twice’ Think Tank Review Project (, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected think tank publications. The project is made possible in part by the generous support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. This review is also found on the GLC website at

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence. For more information on NEPC, please visit .


H. Richard Milner

(615) 480-7474


William Mathis, NEPC

(802) 383-0058


November 16, 2010 at 4:51 PM

By: Robert


Parent's are frustrated by the difficulty in removing bad teacher's from the public school system. I'm sure that teachers are typical of any organization, 10% super, 80% degrees of average, 10% bad, what is frustrating is that it appears that the unions spend a considerable amount of political capital on keeping the bad. Instead they should take the lead to identify the bad teachers and get rid of them, just like any other type of environment. That would go a long way towards being ahead of the issue instead of behind it (or defending it). Plus, it would give the union the reason to cheer on the 90% that are doing a great/good/average job.

November 16, 2010 at 6:26 PM

By: The CPS teacher evel process works

unions do not keep the bad teachers

CPS makes teacher and student lives difficult for learning' they stand in the way of instruction. The process removes poor teachers every year, so it is working. UC take poverty funds from CPS schools--that's criminal.

November 16, 2010 at 6:29 PM

By: bob


By Bob

Dear Robert I do not know what you are talking about when you wrote “Parent's are frustrated by the difficulty in removing bad teacher's from the public school system “Removing a bad teacher is easy ,just do the paperwork. However when that Bad teacher is, say a congressmen’s daughter, or a judge’s wife it gets kind of sticky.

November 16, 2010 at 6:58 PM

By: Anthony


The teacher's union is not about protecting bad teachers, but ensuring that due process is followed if the powers that be plan to remove a teacher. Also, if a teacher is "bad", then administrators and union should work together to help that teacher become proficient, If after due process and help are unsuccessful, then that person should no longer teach.

It fascinates me that honestly believe that teachers want to protect their own,no matter what. Here's some news for you-if my colleagues cannot do their jobs, then they should not be doing them. I'm a teacher.Unions aren't the problem.Ask for more honesty,transparency, and constructive,not punitive, action from the city and the Board of Ed. Teachers are not the enemy;they're your allies in working to give the children the best education possible.

November 16, 2010 at 11:16 PM

By: or a friend of the CAO


if a bad teacher is a friend of a CAO, watch out!

January 12, 2011 at 11:46 PM

By: Jeff Bradford

The teacher's union from a propagandist's perspective

I think this blog entry says it all, and does it elegantly:

January 13, 2011 at 12:44 AM

By: It is no proaganda that Rhee, a TFA

Rhee and corporal punishment

taped her students mouths shut to keep them quiet and then ripped it off and their lips bled. Then she laughed about it when she shared her teaching exp with other TFAs. Yeah! That’s what just few months of taking teacher classes and then being placed with students as their (experimental) teacher will get you.

January 14, 2011 at 12:12 AM

By: Be Fair

In the Middle

Yes, the Union should protect other teachers, but we are not being honest if we are saying that E3 works well enough to get rid of all the people we know should be gone. I think we should avoid extremism, and admit that we could do a better of helping move out teachers. Not only that, I came to my job qualified; I am improving my skills - how much PD, support do we need to provide? How long do we need to provide it? Teaching is the only job where you can become qualified AFTER you get it. Some people aren't cut out to do this; once we become more "snobbish" about this, we will get more traction. On the other hand, we shouldn't throw everybody to the wolves either. There needs to be some balance.

January 14, 2011 at 10:05 AM

By: With Our Permission

It's Happening

Wow. This entire debate distracts from the real agenda which is; 1. destroy tenure so,2.teachers will work 2-3 years & get out, so that eventually 3. all students will be elearners and teachers will be completely obsolete. It's cheaper, the script will never be deviated from and questioning of authority will cease to exisit. A perfect world.

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