Teacher evaluations and the 'widget effect' by WBEZ's Afternoon Shift published on 2013/09/19 17:18:09 +0000 Chicago overhauled its system for evaluating teachers last year in response to a change in state law. Apart from policy changes, the push to revamp these systems stems from the fact that under most old systems, year after year, the majority of teachers were rated excellent or superior, while just 1 percent were considered satisfactory. It’s a phenomenon one study called “The Widget Effect.” A first and partial glimpse of Chicago’s new evaluation system indicates fewer teachers in the top “excellent” category and more in the middle two categories. The shift is not as dramatic as some reformers may have thought, but the numbers are still missing tenured teachers, which only get evaluated every other year. We discuss the first year results with WBEZ producer Becky Vevea and explore the upsides and the downsides of the new system as it continues to be implemented. Other guests include: Field Elementary School principal Brian Metcalf, CTU researcher Carol Caref and special education teacher Lillian Kass.