Improving Teacher Evaluation in California

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Most teachers say they teach because they love their students, and because they love helping them to learn. And it shows. Research shows that the single most important school-based factor in improving student academic performance is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. Students who have strong teachers year after year soar academically.

Unfortunately, too many teachers—from those who are the best in the state to those who are growing professionally— receive limited feedback, whether it is praise for a job well done or constructive feedback to help them grow in their craft.

This is because for far too long our teacher evaluation systems have been shaped by an array of state laws, district policies, union contracts, and local practices that, when combined together, prevent teachers from receiving high-quality evaluations. Teacher evaluations are often approached as little more than the tedious act of filling out a form when, in fact, they should be seen as an opportunity for teacher mentoring and development.

The good news is there are better models being developed right here in California. Today, The Education Trust—West and Teach Plus Los Angeles release Improving Teacher Evaluation in California, an important resource to help teachers learn about new, more useful teacher evaluation processes being developed and implemented in forward-thinking districts and charter schools across the state. Take a moment to read about how Los Angeles Unified School District, the College-Ready Promise, and Lucia Mar Unified School District are each improving teacher evaluations as a critical way to improve both teaching and student outcomes.

We believe evaluation systems should enhance teacher development and guide the professional support our educators deserve. If you agree, please share this resource with your teacher networks. Together, we can take action and begin the tough work of improving California’’s broken teacher evaluation system. It all begins with you.

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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.