Only 33 percent of Miami-Dade fourth graders are proficient in reading and writing. If the district is going to put a dent in this discouraging statistic, it's going to have to change how it evaluates, manages and rewards its teachers. Its first step should be to take a good, hard look at what it's doing in this critical area.
Our recently released study on Miami-Dade teacher quality policy does just this. Based on careful analysis of district data and feedback from over 5,500 educators and community members through surveys, focus groups and interviews, we found three areas that deserve urgent attention:
- Make teacher evaluations count. The district could do more to improve their evaluation instrument, and much more to use the data to inform hiring, professional development and dismissal.
- Use performance, not seniority rules, to dictate staffing decisions. Principals feel obligated to take on less effective teachers due to seniority protections in hiring and transferring. Evidence of teacher performance should instead drive these decisions.
- Offer compensation that rewards your best teachers. Using robust evaluation data, the district could spend its payroll in a way that better honors excellence and strong educators teaching in difficult-to-staff subjects and classrooms.
Community members we spoke with in Liberty City last year asked for help with these very issues. They want all Miami children to have access to the best educators, and expert evaluators who can diagnose teachers' weaknesses to support their professional growth. As one parent told us, "If we just raise the expectation, I know we can meet it."
Tonight the Urban League of Greater Miami is calling on the community to gather again to discuss the findings with NCTQ at 6pm in Freedom Hall, 8400 NW 25th Avenue, Miami.