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Teacher evaluation: Chicago vs. Minnesota

Parents want the best teachers for their children. Teachers want feedback that will improve their craft. Both groups agree that a robust and responsible system of teacher evaluation is an important tool for achieving their goals.

However, the strike by the Chicago Teachers Union has highlighted the differences in teacher evaluation systems. In Chicago, teachers could be evaluated by untrained administrators and judged by student achievement in subjects they don’t teach. In contrast, Minnesota educators have been given a voice in developing an evaluation system based on a 2011 law that Education Minnesota endorsed.

Here are some distinctions between the evaluation systems:

Subject  Chicago  Minnesota 

School administrators are not required to receive training to guarantee consistent and accurate reviews, although peer reviewers are required to do so.

Requires training for all observers and evaluators, including administrators and peers.

 Test scores

40 percent of an educator's evaluation will eventually be tied to student performance on standardized tests.

For teachers in non-tested areas, including art and physical education, the building's average score in reading and math will be used.

35 percent of an educator's evaluation will be tied to student performance, whether on standardized tests or other measures.

Every teacher will be evaluated on his or her own work. Teachers in non-tested areas will be evaluated based on the amount of academic progress of individual students.


Surveys of students in grades 4 to 12 would be used as 10 percent of the teacher's evaluation starting in 2013-14.

Are not required in statute.

Professional development

Professional development plans are required only for low-performing teachers.

Individual growth and development plans are required for all teachers, emphasizing the link between quality professional development and teacher evaluation.

Development of implementation plan

Limited role for teachers in shaping the system, resulting in a punitive model.

Significant and ongoing input from educators.

The Minnesota law also requires or recommends forming professional learning communities in schools, permitting teachers to present a portfolio of their work as part of their evaluation, reserving time during the day for peer coaching and creating mentoring programs. All these components underscore the emphasis on continual professional improvement in the Minnesota statute.

The Chicago strike shows what can happen when an evaluation system is done wrong, with a lack of input from educators and without training requirements for all evaluators. It also shows the unfairness of tying scores on standardized test to educators in subjects without such exams.

Many details of the teacher evaluation system in Minnesota remain unsettled. A state committee charged with recommending a statewide plan that complies with existing legislation is expected to release its recommendations in January. Education Minnesota encourages educators, parents and the public to participate in the discussion. The Chicago strike shows the importance of building widespread acceptance of Minnesota's evaluation plan ahead of its implementation in the 2014-15 school year.

Education Minnesota is an affiliate of the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO.

Education Minnesota
41 Sherburne Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55103

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