Secretary Duncan Seeks and Gets Advice on the Evaluation of Teachers and Principals!

Dear Commons Community,

I am passing along this message sent by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado – Boulder.  It refers to a letter and recommendation for how K-12 educator evaluation systems should be developed.   Written by the 2010 Principal of the Year and her colleague from the NEPC, it was  solicited and sent to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.   Within it, there are recommendations for evaluation systems that include components described as:  a) summative, (b) formative, (c) working conditions, and (d) incentives.   The letter also cautions against evaluation systems based on monetary incentives (New York City) and IMPACT (Washington , D.C.) which place too much dependence on student test scores.



BOULDER, CO (August 1, 2011)—On July 14th, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan picked up the phone, called high school principal Carol Burris—named the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State—and during their conversation asked her to send him a letter describing guiding principles for the evaluation of educators and detailing suggestions for how to realize those principles. Duncan’s call was his response to Burris’s open letter to him in the Washington Post’s “Answer Sheet” blog. In that letter, Burris argued that the current push for punitive evaluation policies is harming schools like hers.

On July 27th, Burris and National Education Policy Center director Kevin Welner responded to Duncan’s request. A public version of the letter they sent him is now available as a policy memo on the NEPC website:

Burris and Welner note that high-quality evaluation of educators is important and should be pursued, even while they stress the obvious fact that “If we fail to invest in our schools and communities, even the highest-quality educator evaluation will lead to little success.”

They point out that a useful and productive evaluation of educators would stand up well to being evaluated itself, based on its overall effect on student learning. Such an overall effect implicates at least four overlapping areas: (a) summative, (b) formative, (c) working conditions, and (d) incentives. Each of these is described in the letter.

Burris and Welner conclude with specific recommendations that suggest a way forward in which educator evaluation is organized and conducted in a way that values research evidence and knowledge.


Comments are closed.