Culture of Countenance: Teachers, Observers and the Effort to Reform Teacher Evaluations

Ten years ago, policymakers began to recognize that evaluation systems were not meaningfully distinguishing between teachers despite wide variations in teacher effectiveness. Even though some teachers were quite good–and others quite poor–at helping students make significant learning gains, these differences were not reflected in evaluations. In response, reform-minded legislatures and school systems in states such as Florida, Tennessee and Texas pursued overhauls of their evaluation systems. The result? Just as under the old systems, 97 percent of teachers are still rated as satisfactory or better.