chris_braunlichby Christian N. Braunlich, Vice President
Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy today released a paper outlining which local Virginia School Boards voted in favor of using performance to improve teacher and principal effectiveness. The paper may be found by clicking here.

With hundreds of candidates in local school board elections this year, the issue is an important one. Numerous studies have demonstrated that the most important feature in improving student performance is the quality of the teacher, and each local school board in Virginia has had an opportunity to support measures improving teacher and principal effectiveness based on performance.

Local school boards were required to vote on the issue as part of the January 2010 Virginia application for the Obama Administration's "Race to the Top" funds. The state application required "buy in" from local school divisions in areas like "improving teacher effectiveness based on performance."

Seventy-five of Virginia's 134 school boards refused to agree to "Design and implement rigorous, transparent, and fair evaluation systems for teachers and principals ..." Seventy-two school boards refused to support conducting "annual evaluations of teachers and principals that include timely and constructive feedback" and, as part of those evaluations, "provide teachers and principals with data on student growth for their students, classes, and schools."

"Most good employers want to improve the effectiveness of their employees based on performance, and want to provide timely and constructive feedback," noted Chris Braunlich, vice president of the Jefferson Institute. "This kind of constant improvement is a hallmark of a quality organization - yet more than half of Virginia's school boards voted against these common sense reforms."

"How teacher evaluations should be strengthened is a legitimate matter and is vital to the improvement of our system of public education," Braunlich concluded. "Voters should know where their local candidates stand and how their incumbent school board members voted ... and board members must be willing to defend the vote they cast."

The Thomas Jefferson Institute report may be found by clicking  here. To determine how individual members on each Board voted requires consulting each school division's records.

The entire Virginia Race to the Top application can be found by clicking here and by clicking here.


Christian N. Braunlich, Vice President
(703) 922-6768
Mobile: (571) 212-0058

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