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Monday, November 11, 2013

Kim Sweet: Why parents and students should have input into a new teacher evaluation system



The following is by Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children, which has just put out a new report on the importance of including student and parent input in the new teacher evaluation system.
Students and parents should have the opportunity to actively contribute to the education policy changes that affect their lives. The implementation of New York City’s new teacher evaluation system, for example, will have an enormous impact on how students and their families experience school – but up to this point, they have been left out of the conversation on teacher evaluation policy. Today Advocates for Children of New York released a policy paper, Essential Voices, Part II: Engaging Students and Parents in the Implementation of a New Teacher Evaluation System, which urges the DOE to establish an advisory group, that includes both students and parents, to provide ongoing input and support on the implementation of the new system.
We have heard from numerous public school parents who have concerns about how the teacher evaluation system will affect their children and who are eager to provide such input. For example, one parent told us, “Parents should be able to voice their opinions, concerns and give their ideas about implementing this new policy…There are parents that still do not know or understand well the process of these evaluations and…what the impact on children with disabilities will be or can be.”
Bringing parents and students into this policy effort in an advisory role will provide the DOE with important perspectives and insights that they otherwise would not hear, as parents and students will have unique knowledge about how the new system is working on the ground. An advisory committee would provide a forum for the DOE to address the questions and concerns of all parties. 
Our paper reviews efforts undertaken in other states, including Colorado, Massachusetts, and Utah, to engage students and families in teacher evaluation policy. We spoke with parents, students, and administrators in these districts, and their experiences demonstrate that it is both feasible and highly beneficial to give students and parents a voice on this issue.

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