Kaitlin Pennington, over at Bellwether’s Ahead of the Heard blog, makes an incredibly important point that often gets lost in education debate: nuance is key. Though this point could be made for just about any education policy, Pennington’s making sure everyone hears it loud and clear when it comes to teacher evaluations. In particular, Pennington is making a call for nuance in the way teachers are categorized — instead of lumping together the “effective” and “highly effective” educators into one category, bring some nuance to the two categories so states and districts can truly learn more about teacher performance.
As a retention strategy, districts can target the top 23 percent of teachers to reward them for their above-average work. If districts want to implement a mentorship program or develop leadership positions within their schools, they can start with this smaller, more selective group. Districts could begin to track teacher retention rates by rating category in order to identify ways to target excellent teachers to stay in the field. If districts had smashed these top two categories together—as NCTQ and the74 do—none of this would be possible. But it is!