Teacher quality is the No. 1 in-school factor affecting student achievement. In order to ensure there’s a great teacher in every Ohio classroom, we need policies in place that recognize and reward our most effective teachers and help all teachers improve their craft.

Ohio recently took a big step forward in improving teacher quality by implementing a new system for evaluating teachers. Starting this year, Ohio teachers will be rated based on a variety of factors, including classroom observations and student achievement growth. Teacher evaluations will help teachers learn their strengths and weaknesses, highlight great teachers and give teachers the opportunity to receive meaningful feedback.

Recent studies how results-driven evaluation systems are having great impact. The most exhaustive study on evaluations to date is the three-year Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) Project. It examined the impact of evaluations on 3,000 teachers in seven districts. The 2013 MET study concluded that student growth measures should account for 33 percent to 50 percent of annual evaluations because they were shown to be a reliable gauge of teacher effectiveness.

A recent study found that the performance-based evaluation system put in place in Washington, D.C., schools under former chancellor Michelle Rhee has greatly increased the proportion of effective teachers in the classroom.

The release of 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress showed gains made by students in Washington, D.C., Tennessee and Indiana outpaced the nation. In each situation, much like Ohio is doing now, rigorous teacher evaluation systems were implemented. These measures include student growth and have matched the evaluation system with a heavy investment in professional development.

The same report showed that Ohio’s schools are falling short. Only 37 percent of students scored proficient or higher. Furthermore, Ohio has a stunning achievement gap. While 44 percent of white students scored proficient, only 11 percent of black students did.

This cannot continue. A quality education requires quality teachers. If we can put a great teacher in every classroom, it would go a long way toward building an education system that truly serves all students.

That’s why a well-designed teacher evaluation framework is so important: It makes teachers better.

Greg Harris

State director, StudentsFirst


Editor’s note: StudentsFirst is a California-based nonprofit led by Rhee. It mobilizes parents, teachers, students, administrators and citizens to produce educational results at the local and national levels.

A losing investment?in Cleveland

I can’t imagine what Cleveland City Council members were thinking when they agreed to spend millions on a stadium that is in perfect condition.

Does the billionaire owner of the Browns need a handout from the citizens of the city? If Jimmy Haslam’s company had not cheated its customers out of millions of dollars, it could have upgraded the stadium with its own money.

Thirty million dollars could do a lot of good in struggling Cleveland. Will a losing Browns team look better on a giant TV screen?

I can’t imagine why people spend their hard-earned money on a bunch of losers year in and year out. The Cleveland Browns are losers, and corrupt new players with their losing ways.

Once I went to see the Browns on a free ticket, but it cost $20 just to park my car, and of course they lost. Why does Haslam have contingency plans to turn his team over to someone else? Is he afraid he might go to jail? I hope the customers of Pilot Flying J get justice.

Curtis Blevins


Obamacare is not?worth the wait

The Nov. 25 letter “Nothing unusual in waiting” was puzzling. The writer notes delays in waiting for house repairs, car repairs and getting a cast off, among other things.

The letter also states we’ve waited 100 years for government health-care, and we’re almost there.

When I bought my house, it took two months to move in, after paperwork was completed. When I’ve gone to a mechanic for an oil change, it is only a few hours at the most. Ordering a part takes longer.

As far as my doctor and my health plan, I’ve been satisfied for years. I think we can all figure out why a farmer doesn’t want to sell skinny turkeys.

President Obama and his incompetent staff have had three years to put a health program together with working computers.

The letter asked, “What’s one more month?” The past two months have been a fiasco, with computers breaking down while Kathleen Sibelius was touring Florida.

For three years, blatant lies were told on TV and recorded, thank goodness. The president really believes he knows what is best for all American citizens.

He forgot that somebody has to pay the piper, which is the good old American working class. That is something Obama and those in Washington, D.C., never have to worry about.

The mainstream press, for the most part, refuses to criticize Obama when he deserves criticism. I don’t have its clout. I am an ordinary citizen who cares what happens to my children and grandchildren and our great country.

I don’t want socialized medicine. If it only takes a month, as stated in the above-mentioned letter, and the health-care computers are humming along beautifully, I will gladly send a letter of apology.

Margaret Koehl Bandy


No need for?more Zimmermans

The shooting death of Trayvon Martin proves that “stand your ground” laws, essentially “shoot first” laws, have deadly consequences. They promote a George Zimmerman-like mentality and misperceptions about weapons by overemphasizing their value in self-defense relative to the other dangers they pose.

In the end, Zimmerman’s mentality, and what emboldened him to approach Martin, may be debatable. Not debatable is the fact that Martin is dead because Zimmerman denied Martin the right to stand his ground.

Gun-rights absolutists in the state legislature are trying to breed Buckeye versions of George Zimmerman by pushing for an equally stupid law in Ohio.

Ohio law already states that if one is in his or her residence, vehicle or the vehicle of an immediate family member, the person does not have to retreat.

But National Rifle Association sock puppet, Terry Johnson, the Republican sponsoring the new bill, doesn’t think the legal permission to blow someone else’s head off doesn’t go far enough.

Johnson said, “Someone attacked by a criminal should not face a prosecutor.” Never mind that I can’t find that Johnson has produced evidence of even a single such incident in Ohio.

When a politician spins every criminal encounter into a justification to use deadly force, it’s time for the good people of Ohio to vote him out in favor of someone who loves Ohioans more than he worships his puppet masters at the NRA.

Mark Ira Kaufman

Silver Lake

In the deep end?of the talent pool

On a recent Saturday evening, as my family and I were leaving Brunswick High School’s stadium after St. Ignatius’ playoff victory over Hudson, an irate, belligerent Hudson fan was stomping around the track bellowing at the top of his lungs that “You St. Ignatius guys do nothing but recruit,” and “We’re going to put a stop to this.”

Well, because the Hudson fan apparently doesn’t have a clue, let me offer him one.

More than 1,400 young men from the greater Cleveland area are enrolled at St. Ignatius, by choice, not by recruitment. Hudson’s male enrollment is around 600. That’s a big difference in talent pools.

Further, in 2009, the International Federation of American Football held its international Junior World Championship competition at Fawcett Stadium.

This tournament featured teams, made up of the best high school football talent, from the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Sweden, Mexico, Japan and New Zealand, the cream of the crop from each nation.

Team USA breezed though the brackets, winning the tournament undefeated and bringing honor to American high school football.

This team’s head coach was Chuck Kyle, head football coach at St. Ignatius. Coach Kyle headed a staff of nine outstanding assistant coaches from every part of the country. Oddly enough, none was from Hudson.

If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.

John Lazar

Canal Fulton