12 Winters Blog

Danielson Framework criticized by Charlotte Danielson

Posted in April 2016, Uncategorized by Ted Morrissey on April 27, 2016

I’ve been writing about the Danielson Framework for Teacher Evaluation for a couple of years, and in fact my “Fatal Flaws of the Danielson Framework” has been my most read and most commented on post, with over 5,000 hits to date. I’ve also been outspoken about how administrators have been misusing the Framework, resulting in demoralized teachers and unimproved (if not diminished) performance in the classroom. (See in particular “Principals unwitting soldiers in Campbell Brown’s army” and “Lowered teacher evaluations require special training.”) At present, teachers are preparing — at great time and expense — to embark on the final leg of the revamped teacher evaluation method with the addition of student performance into the mix (see ISBE’s “Implementing the Student Growth Component in Teacher and Principal Evaluation”). I’ve also written about this wrongheaded development: “The fallacy of testing in education.”

Imagine my surprise when I discovered an unlikely ally in my criticism of Charlotte Danielson’s much lauded approach: Charlotte Danielson herself. The founder of the Danielson Framework published an article in Education Week (April 18 online) that called for the “Rethinking of Teacher Evaluation,” and I found myself agreeing with almost all of it — or, more accurately and more egocentrically, I found Charlotte Danielson agreeing with me, for she is the one who has changed her tune.

My sense is that Ms. Danielson is reacting to widespread dissatisfaction among teachers and principals with the evaluation process that has been put in place which is based on her Danielson Framework. Her article appeared concurrently with a report from The Network for Public Education based on a survey of nearly 3,000 educators in 48 states which is highly critical of changes in teacher evaluation and cites said changes as a primary reason for teachers exiting the profession in droves and for young people choosing not to go into education in the first place. For example, the report states, “Evaluations based on frameworks and rubrics, such as those created by Danielson and Marzano, have resulted in wasting far too much time. This is damaging the very work that evaluation is supposed to improve . . .” (p. 2).

Ms. Danielson does not, however, place blame in her Framework, at least not directly. She does state what practically all experienced teachers have known all along when she writes, “I’m deeply troubled by the transformation of teaching from a complex profession requiring nuanced judgment to the performance of certain behaviors that can be ticked off a checklist.” Her opinion is a change from earlier comments when she said that good teaching could be easily defined and identified.  In a 2012 interview, Ms. Danielson said that her assessment techniques are “not like rocket science,” whereas “[t]eaching is rocket science. Teaching is really hard work. But doing that [describing what teaching “looks like in words”] isn’t that big a deal. Honestly, it’s not. But nobody had done it.”

Instead of her Framework, then, Ms. Danielson places the lion’s share of the blame with state legislators who oversimplified her techniques via their adoptions, and — especially — with administrators who are not capable of using the Framework as it was intended. She writes, “[F]ew jurisdictions require their evaluators to actually demonstrate skill in making accurate judgments. But since evaluators must assign a score, teaching is distilled to numbers, ratings, and rankings, conveying a reductive nature to educators’ worth and undermining their overall confidence in the system.”

Amen, Sister Charlotte! Testify, girlfriend!

Danielson quote 1

Ms. Danielson’s critique of administrators is a valid one, especially considering that evaluators were programmed, during their Danielson training, to view virtually every teacher as less than excellent, which put even the best-intentioned evaluators in a nitpicking mode, looking for any reason, no matter how immaterial to effective teaching, to find a teacher lacking and score them “proficient” instead of “excellent.” In her criticism of administrators Ms. Danielson has touched upon what is, in fact, a major shortcoming of our education system: The road to becoming an administrator is not an especially rigorous one — especially when it comes to academic rigor — and once someone has achieved administrative status, there tends to be no apparatus in place to evaluate their performance, including (as Ms. Danielson points out) their performance in evaluating their teachers.

Provided that administrators can keep their immediate superior (if any) content, as well as the seven members of the school board (who are almost never educators themselves), they can appear to be effective. That is, as long as administrators do not violate the terms of the contract, and as long as they are not engaging in some form of obvious harassment, teachers have no way of lodging a complaint or even offering constructive criticism. Therefore, if administrators are using the Danielson Framework as a way of punishing teachers — giving them undeservedly reduced evaluations and thus exposing them to the harms that can befall them, including losing their job regardless of seniority —  there is no way for teachers to protect themselves. They cannot appeal an evaluation. They can write a letter to be placed alongside the evaluation explaining why the evaluation is unfair or invalid, but their complaint does not trigger a review of the evaluation. The evaluator’s word is final.

Danielson quote 2

According to the law of averages, not all administrators are excellent; and not all administrators use the evaluation instrument (Danielson or otherwise) excellently. Some administrators are average; some are poor. Some use the evaluation instrument in a mediocre way; some use it poorly. Hence you can quite easily have an entire staff of teachers whose value to the profession is completely distorted by a principal who is, to put it bluntly, bad at evaluating. And there’s not a thing anyone can do about it.

Another crucial point that Charlotte Danielson makes in her Education Week article is that experienced teachers should not be evaluated via the same method as teachers new to the field: “An evaluation policy must be differentiated according to whether teachers are new to the profession or the district, or teach under a continuing contract. . . . Once teachers acquire this status [i.e. tenure], they are full members of the professional community, and their principal professional work consists of ongoing professional learning.” In other words, experienced teachers, with advanced degrees in their content area and a long list of professional accomplishments, shouldn’t be subjected to the same evaluation procedure as someone who is only beginning their career and has much to learn.

In fact, using the same evaluation procedure creates a very odd dynamic: You oftentimes have an administrator who has had only a limited amount of classroom experience (frequently fewer than ten years, and perhaps only two or three) and whose only advanced degree is the one that allows them to be an administrator (whereby they mainly study things like school law and school finance), sitting in judgment of a teacher who has spent twenty or thirty years honing their teaching skills and who has an advanced degree in their subject area. What can the evaluator possibly say in their critique that is meaningful and appropriate? It is commonplace to find this sort of situation: A principal who was a physical education or drivers education teacher, for perhaps five years, is now sitting in an Advanced Placement Chemistry classroom evaluating a twenty-year veteran with a masters degree or perhaps even a Ph.D. in chemistry. The principal feels compelled to find something critical to say, so all they can do is nitpick. They can’t speak to anything of substance.

Danielson quote 3

What merit can there be in a system that makes evaluators omnipotent judges of teachers in subject areas that the evaluators themselves literally are not qualified to teach? It isn’t that veteran teachers don’t have anything to learn. Far from it. Teaching is a highly dynamic, highly challenging occupation; and the successful teacher is constantly learning, growing, self-reflecting, and networking with professional peers. The successful principal makes space for the teacher to teach and for the student to learn, and they protect that space from encroachment by anyone whose design is to impede that critical exchange.

Ms. Danielson offers this alternative to the current approach to evaluation: “An essential step in the system should be the movement from probationary to continuing status. This is the most important contribution of evaluation to the quality of teaching. Beyond that, the emphasis should be on professional learning, within a culture of trust and inquiry. . . . Experienced teachers in good standing should be eligible to apply for teacher-leadership positions, such as mentor, instructional coach, or team leader.”

Ironically, what Ms. Danielson is advocating is a return to evaluation as most teachers knew it prior to adoption of the Danielson Framework.

(Grammar alert: I have opted to use the gender-neutral pronouns they and their etc. even when they don’t agree in number with their antecedents.)



92 Responses

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  1. Grady Wagner said, on April 29, 2016 at 12:38 am

    What’s rotten about Danielson framework is that inept administrators have tailored it as a tool to get rid of hard working well qualified teachers. Like they needed another weapon to cast us down when they can’t satisfy whining parents,

    • Jennifer said, on April 29, 2016 at 6:51 pm

      Excellent point! I agree 100%. I had to defend a wait time response bc the principal thought I allowed “too much unconcstructed time for student responses.”

      • Mi helle said, on December 7, 2018 at 6:56 am

        I know that most administrators don’t know that 3 seconds is a long time. Average wait time for teachers has been 1 second for a long time and admin has no patience.

    • Laurie Kopp said, on May 2, 2016 at 9:48 am

      That is exactly why I retired! I am a National Board Certified Teacher, yet my principal made me feel inept and incompetent as I worked to jump through the hoops of this ridiculously long framework. I had proven, through hard work and explicit examples, that I was an exemplary teacher through the NBCT process. I felt having to do this framework was demoralizing. After 33 years, I left the profession I loved due to the added work and stress of this imposed framework.

  2. Kimberly Goldbaum said, on April 29, 2016 at 7:43 am

    She can keep criticizing herself, although that really hasn’t been the case. Instead of fighting to defend a framework about the communication of ideas, she signed off with the very districts she blames. She gave them permission for evaluation publishing rights and took the money. In so doing, we are now on the hook for bad policy.

    • Karen said, on April 29, 2016 at 7:26 pm

      The dollar is always the bottom line. new generations of admin. hires has created a limited understanding of curriculum and leadership in secondary ed. canned analysis are helpful in guiding admin with little knowledge of teaching and managing classrooms.

    • mary weaver said, on April 30, 2016 at 7:39 am

      I agree totally it is all about the money !!! So now we are stuck with more useless work…

    • Paola Moore-Pagano said, on May 1, 2016 at 9:58 am

      I’m sure she also made quite a profit from it. Hypocrite!

    • Shelley Gordon said, on May 3, 2016 at 1:37 am

      Agreed. Perhaps, if she is sincere, she should do what Diane Ravitch did – write a book, with a forward apologizing for her contribution to education deform.

    • K. Brake said, on May 3, 2016 at 2:39 pm

      Well said.

  3. Surfing in Brooklyn. | Fred Klonsky said, on April 29, 2016 at 8:57 am

    […] Imagine my surprise when I discovered an unlikely ally in my criticism of Charlotte Danielson’s much lauded approach: Charlotte Danielson herself. The founder of the Danielson Framework published an article in Education Week (April 18 online) that called for the “Rethinking of Teacher Evaluation,” and I found myself agreeing with almost all of it — or, more accurately and more egocentrically, I found Charlotte Danielson agreeing with me, for she is the one who has changed her tune. Ted Morrisey […]

    • stevenjcooney said, on May 21, 2020 at 8:49 am

      Charlotte’s framework published in 1996 is solid. I continue to use the 1996 framework in mentoring, coaching, and my own professional practice. In 2007 Danielson took a sharp turn diminishing the journey to excellence in professional practice and instruction. To paraphrase Charlotte writes that distinguished performance is not a place where a practitioner lives. You may get there from time to time but circumstance such as culture, environment, and student population often prevent a distinguished performance. In educational terms… Try like hell but resign your mindset to proficient mediocrity. Equally bad is the language and change of the framework becomes less tangible. She has effectively weaponized the rubrics for administrators while diminishing the value that distinguished educators bring to the building.

      • Ted Morrissey said, on May 21, 2020 at 10:29 am

        Right. All effective professionals self-reflect continuously, and as an aid to self-reflection the Framework can be quite useful. But as a strictly enforced evaluation instrument, it does far more harm than good. Your word “weaponize” strikes me as exactly right. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Terry Waltz said, on April 29, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Actual quote from Charlotte Danielson in an email to me: “I fail to understand, however, why this is not something that can be handled locally; I don’t set policy in every school district, and I’m highly reluctant to encourage modifications of the Danielson Framework for every situation.” In other words, I’m making money off this, and I don’t care how it’s actually implemented because I sold the content already.

    • E Zaluba said, on April 30, 2016 at 5:48 am

      State and federal law is superseding local control. That’s why it can’t be changed locally.

  5. Theresa Waurzyniak Kelly said, on April 29, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    I love how I have a FIVE page rubric for my job, but my boss comes in for a 30 minute ‘hit and run’ evaluation.

  6. Bonnie Church said, on April 29, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    This is one of the reasons I retired, thought it was a ridiculous way to,evaluate teachers, and wasted time for teachers!

  7. Mark Hastings said, on April 30, 2016 at 12:35 am

    I have always felt that the weakest link in education has been at the administrative level for a myriad of reasons. One out of the many questions that have burned in the mind is exactly how can an admin with limited classroom experience adequately and fairly evaluate an experienced teacher? Using the Danielson Framework indeed has become a crutch for the weak administrator and, regrettably, a weapon to demoralize even the most experienced and successful educator.

    • Ted Morrissey said, on April 30, 2016 at 9:55 am

      I believe there’s a tacit assumption that if one is a principal (or any administrator) that they’ve demonstrated some distinction in the classroom and a degree of professional accomplishment — and there certainly are some very good administrators out there — but distinction and accomplishment are not prerequisites by any means. There are a lot of reasons why someone might want to leave the classroom to become an administrator, but money and in-house prestige are high among them. If a teacher is early in their career, the only way to make a big jump in pay is to become an administrator. Early in my career I considered going that route — even took the school law class to start down the path — but I quickly realized I’m not well suited to dealing with the political aspects of the job. Plus the longer contract and evening and weekends hours were not attractive to me either. Mostly, though, I really enjoy teaching and I didn’t want to give that up to become an administrator. There are good administrators out there (even great ones), but the fact that they’re beyond the critique of those beneath them is problematic. Teachers are legitimately afraid of communicating any sort of dissatisfaction for fear of retaliation, and that’s not good for the profession; and more importantly it’s not good for our charges.

    • Jean DiGiacomo said, on June 25, 2017 at 9:45 am


  8. Jennifer R. said, on April 30, 2016 at 6:19 am

    It’s been over 10 years now and I’m sure some things have changed, but I once spent a few weeks evaluating for the national boards. Applying for National Boards is not cheap and one of the reasons why is because of the evaluation system. At the time I did it, I was given 2 days of intense training (I was assessing the written narratives teachers wrote). The assumption was that the teacher was proficient, all we had to do was find and record the evidence. Before we actually scored any submissions, we were then given a test assessment to make sure we had understood the training. Those who didn’t do well didn’t stay. Every submission was read by 2 evaluators and if their scores varied widely, it was read by a third. I once had 2 where it was deemed i had scored incorrectly. I was retrained to get me back on track and everyone was given a short retraining after a weekend off. Teachers pursue this voluntarily but when it comes to an actual job evaluation there is far less rigor.

    I’m not saying we should turn our evaluation system into the national boards, but we could take some cues from its training procedures. One training and one observer is not enough. Why do we only entrust administrators with evaluations? Why can’t department heads and experienced mentor teachers be trained to do evaluations as well? Someone who could evaluate content not just teaching style. An extra set of eyes to concur or rebut a short, in comparison to the hours in a school year, observation.

    When I heard about the Danielson Framework, I thought it was a good thing. At least better than what my district had been using. It is more structured and the evidence principals need to record has been more precise, but it can still come down to a he said/she said debate with the administrator getting the final word. Not only that, but I hear from teachers in other districts that the majority of the evaluation work is put on their shoulders. They are required to put together an evidence binder and present it to the evaluator as proof for the domains that can’t be easily assessed from a 30-60 minute classroom observation. Collecting evidence should be the job of the evaluator. The teacher doesn’t need the additional time suck or stress.

    My 10 cents, for what it’s worth.

  9. Deborh A Dufton said, on April 30, 2016 at 7:08 am

    Hmm, reminds me of when we received a new evaluation system of about fifty items, with rankings from one to ten (ten being excellent) and were informed that nobody could be excellent in any of them! “So,” I questioned, “does that also mean that no student can ever achieve 100% on an exam or project, or an A+ for the term?” Of course I learned in an elementary science class that “perfection” is a concept in thought,” but excellence can be exhibited and demonstrated by anyone in the concrete. We had an interesting debate, and not a few subsequent evaluation instruments. Teaching seems to be one place where “everything old is new again.”One does not have to teach too many years to see the same old bus come rolling along again! I seem to remember a good many education reform movements in the past fifty years! So much energy, time, etc. I also remember Professor Kelly, at Tufts telling us in our Intro to Ed class, ” Always remember that everyone thinks they know all about teaching, because, ‘after all they went to school, too!’ “

  10. eatingasapathtoyoga said, on April 30, 2016 at 9:18 am

    75% of our teacher evaluation is Danielson, 25% is student growth. It’s scary! If we don’t get an excellent each time, it threatens our placement in our grade level category for honorable dismissal.

  11. eatingasapathtoyoga said, on April 30, 2016 at 9:27 am

    So essentially that undermines the reflective process and is probably part of the mongrelization of the framework that Danielson is talking about in her comments.

    • Melissa Morrissey said, on April 30, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Reflection is my strength, but now we are being asked to prove we reflect. I’d be happy to sit around and journal today but I don’t think it’s the best use of taxpayers’ money.

  12. rovingvivaciously said, on April 30, 2016 at 10:05 am

    Does anyone remember Madeline Hunter? I had professors and administrators expecting every lesson to be in perfect Hunter format, when she herself said that was never her intent. I’m so tired of all the non-teachers thinking that every teachers’ style can be pigeonholed on a neat chart. I have known so many great teachers over the years and they all had different styles of teaching that worked.

    • Ted Morrissey said, on April 30, 2016 at 10:18 am

      I remember Madeline well. It’s funny how all the experts who want to push a one-size-fits-all approach (be it Hunter, Danielson or whoever) grew up and were educated during a period of classroom-style diversity; yet the experts seem to feel they’re pretty bright and well-educated. But of course classroom-style diversity is not especially profitable. We know that how well to do a child’s family is (or isn’t) plays an enormous part in educating the child successfully, but trying to end poverty as a linchpin to improved education isn’t profitable either.

      • Shelley Gordon said, on May 3, 2016 at 1:43 am

        Perhaps there should be a law that prohibits profiteering from education policy ideas. Have a bright idea? Great! Share it but do not think you can get rich from it. That might give these deformers and privatization zealots pause.

    • weberswords said, on April 30, 2016 at 11:34 am

      Yes! Despite claims, good teaching can look different. It depends on the teacher and the students. My teaching adjusts based on the students I have and how they learn. We have a section on our evaluation framework that says, “Complies and supports all school and district mandates.” I told my supervisor flat out that that will not happen of the mandate is not what’s best for kids. I don’t comply just to comply. One of many reasons I’m leaving the profession.

    • Glenda said, on May 1, 2016 at 5:11 am

      That is what I was thinking about. When lessons of the past are forgotten or dismissed we repeat them. Administrators, including superintendents, and State Superintendents look for a checklist, procedure, or data because they never learned how to evaluate subjective evidence or how to value the art of teaching. Professional Educators who create frameworks, schema, models for teachers to use in structuring teaching believe they are helping to clarify and support teachers. Administrators take those basic instructions to develop literal step-by-step teaching. It is as stupid as expecting an experienced artist to only do paint-by-numbers and evaluating them according to if they kept within the lines and only used the prescribed colors.

      • Janice C. said, on May 1, 2016 at 1:04 pm

        Well said!

    • Mark Trepanier said, on March 12, 2018 at 8:57 pm

      Your “10 cents worth” says a lot and is dead on.

    • Mark Trepanier said, on March 12, 2018 at 8:59 pm


  13. Tim said, on April 30, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Thank you, Dr. Morrissey and ALL the commenters.

    Keep up the good fight for the sake of the profession, the schools and above all, the children.

    God bless you one and all!

  14. Rita M. WIrtz, MA said, on April 30, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    I hope you remember visiting our school, as we were turning it around, Bell Ave. School, in Sacto. some years ago. This is quite an article. Thanks for your honesty. Rita Wirtz

    • Ted Morrissey said, on April 30, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      You may have me confused with another Ted Morrissey (or perhaps George Clooney visited your school?). Thanks for reading and commenting, Rita.

  15. Lamp said, on April 30, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    I agree with Ms Danielson! Administrators are nitpicking rather than offering constructive criticism which could actually help a teacher to refine his/her craft. Put the administrator in the classrooms and see if they could do as well as the teacher!! They need perspective!!

  16. Sue Smith said, on April 30, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    They are trying to make a profession that has so many subtle levels of excellence and is so very subjective, we are educating humans, into an objective evaluation. I have taught for 30 plus years and every day my teaching is always different because my students are different every day. I want my administrator to come in often and see what my room is really about. One or two times is not enough and please don’t write an evaluation on those two times, especially one that is supposedly objective.

  17. Dorothy West said, on April 30, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    Danielson is one of the reasons I retired at 55! I felt like I was being slowly pecked to death and the stress and the pay check was no longer worth it! I now sub when I can, no stress there, although I do miss my former paycheck, my sanity was more important!

    • Jean DiGiacomo said, on June 25, 2017 at 9:47 am


  18. Joe B said, on May 1, 2016 at 1:01 am

    This is so enlightening. I taught for 30 years and quit because of a hostile work environment where evaluations, from an administrator who had NEVER been in a classroom, were used to force veteran teachers out. The branding is damaging to a professional who can then have trouble moving on to a less hostile environment. It seemed quite obvious when, in a two year period, any teacher with 30 years of experience was pushed out of the door and 60% teacher turn over in a three year period. These administrators get promoted after the damage is done. I await the teacher shortage explosion. Veterans are run off because of financial benefits to the system and new teachers are greeted with an assault that makes many give up in the first three years.

  19. Mike Young said, on May 1, 2016 at 4:58 am

    I understand the points but this writer demonizes administrators and belittles their qualifications while raising teachers to the status of sainthood. There are some great teachers, some mediocre teachers and definitely some very poor teachers out there. I have worked hard to use the framework fairly and consistently. There are plenty of teachers who get high ratings because the are superior teachers. There rest get proficient or lower because that is where there practice is and they need to keep working on refining what they do to really educate skillfully.

    • Sherry T said, on May 1, 2016 at 7:39 am

      “THERE rest get… “, “…where THERE practice is??” Now, you have convinced us all of your proficiency as an administrator…

      • Mary said, on May 1, 2016 at 11:22 am

        Exactly!! Lol!!!

      • Mary said, on May 1, 2016 at 11:25 am

        Love it!!! 😀

      • Deborah Scott said, on November 15, 2016 at 5:11 pm

        I caught that one too! Great comment! And they blame teachers for all the problems!

      • Deborah Scott said, on November 15, 2016 at 5:14 pm

        Caught that one too! And we are the blame for all the problems?

  20. Denise Miller said, on May 1, 2016 at 9:10 am

    The long-running evaluation battle shifted dramatically with the money influence of testing/curriculum companies. Reducing teacher behaviors to measurable, robotic actions paves the way for a teacher-less classroom. Individualized, computer-based, with constant student assessment. Public money will continue to flow to developers instead of toward addressing poverty and school funding. Our administrators have no control because the instruments are intentionally designed to control and standardize their responses.

    • Kim Schwartz said, on July 10, 2018 at 12:59 am

      Bingo! It is now 2 years later and sadly this is happening now!

  21. Nancy Marshall said, on May 1, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    I retired because of the insanity of many things popular in education. Your mind says you can keep doing this job, but the body never lies and health problems spring up like weeds!

  22. Matt Renwick said, on May 2, 2016 at 7:05 am

    Thank you for your analysis. I am a school principal. We moved away from using the framework for my supervision duties this year. It’s not that the content of the framework is not good. It just got in the way of me coming in and experiencing the learning process and having real conversations with teachers about their craft. I now do 10-12 instructional walks for each classroom teacher per year. We take this body of work and make a collaborative decision about their performance and progress over time. Not perfect, but it is a more authentic process for evaluation.

    • Ted Morrissey said, on May 2, 2016 at 7:09 am

      Thanks for your comment, Matt. I think your perspective that the Framework gets in the way of meaningful interaction between principal and teacher, as opposed to facilitating it, is a great one. Your process as you describe it sounds potentially much more productive.

  23. plthomasedd said, on May 2, 2016 at 7:13 am

    Even Technocrats with Good Intentions Sustain Classroom Colonialism https://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/even-technocrats-with-good-intentions-sustain-classroom-colonialism/

  24. […] driving much of the classroom colonialism challenged by Benjamin, Emdin, Samudzi, and Paul Gorski: Danielson’s alternative to the failed good intentions of teacher evaluation is just another technocratic version of teacher […]

  25. Mark said, on May 2, 2016 at 9:38 am

    My school administration’s execution of the danielson model actually ranks most teachers as excellent. This definitely makes some people happy but I see it as creating more problems. For one, instead of being modeled around growth, teachers are encouraged just to maintain their current methods. And the biggest problem I see, is that it essentially makes ‘Proficient’ the new needs improvement. The rubric makes it very easy to drop teachers down from excellent into proficient if the admin wants to get rid of them.

  26. James G said, on May 2, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Fascinating response. I have not yet read the article you cite and will need some time to digest your critiques. However, I do find it interesting that you chose to agree with her quote that “since evaluators must assign a score, teaching is distilled to numbers, ratings, and rankings, conveying a reductive nature to educators’ worth and undermining their overall confidence in the system.” How is this different than what we do to students every single day? That being said, what is the better evaluation measure for teaching and learning?

    • Ted Morrissey said, on May 2, 2016 at 2:21 pm

      Thanks for commenting, James. When you read the article you’ll see that Charlotte Danielson questions whether evaluation, based on some rubric, is even appropriate for a teacher who has fully entered the professional community (I interpret her to mean, once a teacher has been given tenure). This has been my feeling for years. Instead of asking, “What is the best way to evaluate teachers?” — ask, “Why do experienced teachers need to be evaluated anyway?” They fulfill their classroom responsibilities. They participate in professional activities (membership in organizations, pursuing coursework, attending conferences, presenting at conferences, publishing books and articles, etc.). They maintain their license according to their state’s requirements. What is the purpose of a checklist-style evaluation? In what other profession are professionals evaluated in this way? Medicine? Engineering? The Law? Of course not. So in response to your first question, I would say that perhaps that is part of the overarching problem: In evaluation systems like Danielson’s, teachers are treated like students, not like adult professionals.

      • Geoff Thomas said, on May 26, 2016 at 2:37 pm

        I too have deep reservations about Charlotte and her evaluation rubric. I am particularly concerned about the evaluation being “Weaponized” and / or complex teaching being reduced to a simple check off list. I also agree that the evaluation is FAR too long and have asked our administrators to reduce it to its salient points.

        Following a national conference presentation, I shared my concerns personally to Ms. Danielson and I find her recent critique of her own work more than a bit hypocritical as she has made millions selling this across the USA. Over the course of years seemingly we have simply replaced Madeline with Charlotte. Perhaps “Sally” and her new scheme will be next.

        Sadly, this and most of the “Reform” efforts we have been subjected to in the last decade have been much more about politics and marketing than actual education.

  27. Shelley Gordon said, on May 3, 2016 at 1:54 am

    Oh come on Charlotte! I am not buying into your dismay. You are a smart woman. Did you really think legislators would use your EVALUATION FRAMEWORK in any way other than described in this article? Likewise, did you think evaluators and upper school district administrators would not find ways to pervert the process? Have the decency to do what Ravitch did – write a book, apologize to teachers, tell the truth, speak out far more forcefully and in the right forums. Let the lawmakers and the unions and the school districts know that the way your framework is being used is a fraud.

  28. […] Danielson Framework criticized by Charlotte Danielson: I found this to be particularly interesting as we are in the thick of final evaluations at my school. Danielson has some interesting things to say about how her evaluation ideas have been incorrectly implemented. […]

  29. David said, on June 8, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    Isn’t the main problem with the framework its constructivist foundation? And what about the supposed “research based” aspect? The Sutton Trust report, “What Makes Great Teaching?” found little correlation in the academic research between the Danielson Framework and student achievement. http://www.suttontrust.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/What-Makes-Great-Teaching-REPORT.pdf

    We had a Danielson consultant visit our school and gave us the song and dance routine–he lost me when discussing how we should be teaching to learning styles…

  30. Colleen Rogers said, on November 7, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    I quit my beloved teaching job this week after refusing to be subjected to another cycle of evaluation under this horrific form of personnel assessment. Hope Ms. Danielson sleeps well at night…stressed out, demoralized teachers can’t.

  31. D said, on January 4, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    I love your writing! Your words represent some of my thoughts as well. I would like to get some advice and have a private conversation that isn’t posted. If/when you have time, could you please email me? Thanks!

  32. donnahughesart said, on January 23, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    Students, you are of great value to all as we begin a new era in education. Cherish your teachers who have dedicated their lives, and sacrificed to share talents, creativity, skills, and knowledge… lessons learned will serve you well. Education is your greatest gift for the future….use it to rise above!

  33. donnahughesart said, on January 23, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    Fellow educators… a woman in a prominent position once taught us well, in her words and actions, so remember her brilliant words..”when they go low…we go high!” Hold you heads high, and stay positive… we are education professionals, not just teachers!

  34. […] a year ago I posted “Danielson Framework criticized by Charlotte Danielson” and it has generated far more interest than I would have anticipated. As of this writing, it […]

  35. Kevin said, on May 5, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Like any profession there are good and bad administrators, as there are good and bad teachers, as there are good and bad bloggers. As a retired administrator I am sorry to see both the author and Ms. Danielson laying blame solely at the feet of principals. When I started in education it was a respected and noble field! I truly cared about my teacher and my students. However, it was right around the time that we required to use systems such as Danielson that I felt like my instructional leadership was undermined. The problem is not as simple as a single framework but with a public education system that has been subjected to corporate and governmental attacks that demanded solutions that didn’t address existing problems…. now there are far greater problems! Until public education is seen as a value for society again we will continue to have these debates that don’t really address the root problem.

    • Ted Morrissey said, on May 5, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      The evaluation system is wrongheaded. Perhaps for nontenured teachers, our current approach, in general, makes sense. Beyond that, it’s more often a hindrance than a help to effective teaching.

  36. Jean DiGiacomo said, on June 25, 2017 at 9:42 am

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I left the field of education after 26 years, largely in response to a principal with no interpersonal skills, a severe lack of classroom experience, and a less than competent (in my humble opinion) administrative skill set. She latched onto the Framework, not as a way to help ensure quality in the classroom, but as an evaluation tool in and of itself. My job became so much less about teaching and so much more about paperwork. I absolutely loved teaching for 25 of my 26 years. My 26th year I began to absolutely despise my job. What a sad way to exit a career that has meant the world to me. I was not perfect, by any means. There is always room for improvement. I will say, however, I have multitudes of students who have contacted me to tell me what a difference I have made in their lives. For that, I am incredibly grateful.

  37. Windmillwacker said, on October 22, 2017 at 9:40 am

    That albatross is HEAVY, Charlotte?

  38. Krista Riblet said, on October 30, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    I have read that Charlotte Danielson has taught every grade from kindergarten to 12th grade, but I can’t find her professional resume. I would like to know more information about the schools, subjects, and duration of her teaching assignments.

    • Ted Morrissey said, on March 17, 2019 at 4:55 pm

      Her specific credentials seem a well-guarded secret, which is always a red flag.

  39. Rick Nielson said, on February 12, 2018 at 9:53 am

    Danielson Blues
    by “Rudimentary” Rick Nielson

    Well I used to be a teacher, you could always hear me moan
    Yes I used to be a teacher, but now I’m sittin’ at home
    Lord I know I did a good job, But Danielson said I was wrong

    Well I don’t know too much about frameworks, but I feel like I been framed
    No I don’t know much about framework, but I know I been defamed
    They nailed me to Danielson’s framework, and they ruined my good name

    The AP came to observe me, and she called me developing
    She watched me for less than 5 minutes, Lord she didn’t say a thing
    If I wanted a Highly Effective, I should have knelt and kissed her ring

    The AP don’t know what she’s doing, she ain’t hardly taught a class
    No she don’t know what she doing, don’t know how this came to pass
    But I know that evil woman, she can kiss my developing ass

    I studied on 22 components, and I pondered 4 domains
    Yes I studied all them dirty components, and I sweated those filthy domains
    I been teachin’ for 40 years Lord, never needed them fancy names

    I designed some coherent instruction, and I organized physical space
    I maintained accurate records, and reflected all over the place
    Then they said I was Ineffective, and they called me a disgrace

    I had all them critical attributes, used they fancy discussion techniques
    I set some instructional outcomes, Lord it took me weeks and weeks
    When they said that I done it all wrong, tears of pain rolled down my cheeks

    I done left the teaching profession, I just couldn’t take it no more
    Birds were singing, the sun was shining, when I walked right out that door
    I heard heavenly angel harps playing- Lord, I know you keepin’ score

    When Danielson meet St. Peter, he gonna show that cold woman the door

    She will fall like the Morning Star fell, down to the fiery pits of Hell
    There she’ll shake hands with the Devil -she already know him well
    But he won’t make her no more deals, ‘cause she ain’t got no soul to sell

    Her lungs will fill up with chalkdust, and demons will poke her with sticks
    Shades of students and educators will gather to get in some licks
    And all them teachers up in heaven will take field trips there for kicks

  40. WSM (@WarwickSofM) said, on June 8, 2018 at 8:09 am

    Domain 5

    5A. Demonstrates having little time to upload artifacts that demonstrate effective teaching because he/she was working to improve student learning by creating the artifacts the he/she has to upload.

    5B. Demonstrates the redundancy of measuring student achievement in the form of an SGO by spending hours creating data that measures student achievement therefore reducing the number of hours spent on student achievement.

    5C. Demonstrates time spent uploading artifacts on teaching pedagogy instead of reading relevant articles on teaching pedagogy.

    5D. Produces artifacts of effective teaching to upload into software read by administrators who validate effective teaching by observing classroom instruction for 1.5 hours out of a 1260 hour school year.

    5E. Creates artifacts to upload to measure student achievement for the sake of creating artifacts that measure student achievement to show that artifacts were created to improve student achievement without validating weather student achievement was actually met.

    5F. Actively anguishes over the development of the profession into an educational allegory for Catch-22, rife with aggressively paradoxical choices between completing the theoretical “evidence” of the work and the actual, tangible, meaningful, subjective human-based enterprise that is the work.

  41. TeacherinMichigan said, on September 19, 2018 at 9:01 am

    One of the most discouraging aspects of this form of evaluation is that it simply moves goal posts to unattainable levels.

    And I fear that eventually teachers are simply going to give up trying to meet them. When the goal becomes unattainable, teachers will eventually quit caring about meeting the expectations. And nobody will be able to blame them.

  42. Stacy Gaspar said, on October 21, 2018 at 10:41 am

    The funny thing is that as teachers we get in an uproar over the difficulty of getting excellent on a rubric, but do we ever think that our students go through the same thing when we give them rubrics. In the era of standards-based grades, how is earning a proficient any different from earning meets? Are we all exemplary teachers? Do we all have nothing to work on? I have looked at Danielson as a way to hone my craft and improve my skills. Yes, there are administrators out there that will use the framework to demoralize and based on the many comments on this article that seems to be the only people who comment. Perfection does not exist and we should always continue to move our goal forward. Many think that other professionals are not scrutinized like teachers. That is true to an extent, except they are in the private sector. Doctors, lawyers, CPAs, etc. are judged by the people and if they are not good at their craft they lose clientele. It is different for teachers. A parent who doesn’t like a teacher or feels the teacher is not doing a good job cannot just take their business elsewhere without making a major move, paying for private school, or being “that parent” with the school administration. Teacher evaluations are akin to private sector professionals losing clientele. I think instead of complaining about how awful evaluations are or how they need to be tailored we need to find a middle ground. There will always be excellent, mediocre, and poor administrators and teachers so instead of blaming the tool let’s find a way to fix the system.

    • Ted Morrissey said, on October 21, 2018 at 7:56 pm

      Unfortunately teachers do not have the agency to fix the system. We are at the mercy of the elected officials — at every level of government — who decide what’s best for educators, even though very, very few elected officials have any experience in the classroom whatsoever.

  43. Chris Aho said, on December 9, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    From what I have been reading you ar writing a book about this please let me know when it will be done and how I can get the book. Thank you.

    • Ted Morrissey said, on December 10, 2018 at 11:02 am

      I appreciate the support, Chris. I’ve certainly thought about writing a book, but it would be a major undertaking to do well — and I have a lot of other stuff I’m writing. A book on the woeful state of education would require a lot of research, and to be honest I don’t want to turn my wife into a research widow, so I prefer projects that aren’t so research-laden. But maybe … if I can find a way to do the research without its being too burdensome.

  44. Matt said, on March 17, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    My biggest issue with the whole evaluation process is that it makes no logical sense. Why evaluate teachers at all? In the private sector; evaluations are tied to raises and bonuses, but teachers do not get raises and bonuses tied to their evaluations. Their raises are mandated according to the collective bargaining agreement. In the private sector; evaluations are used as evidentiary process for employee termination; which also does not apply to teachers as they are protected by unions. Then lastly, the evaluation may prove the need to for added supports, but in 9/10 it’s not the support that the teacher even needs. So why are teachers even evaluated if the evaluation has no use?

    • Ted Morrissey said, on March 17, 2019 at 4:51 pm

      I think evaluation, like a lot of our profession’s woes, is rooted in the fact it was and is largely a female occupation (more than three quarters of teachers are female, according to an Education Week article in 2017 [link at end of comment]), while men have been in charge of schools, either as administrators or elected community members — and the patriarchy has felt the need to assert its authority over the women who serve under them. By codifying evaluation it gives them a male-sanctioned mechanism to critique, to reward, and to punish as they see fit. Generally speaking, with no questions asked. Teachers are expected to quietly accept their rating from the all-knowing administrator who bestows it upon them — not unlike the omnipotent Victorian husband whose duty it was to criticize and correct his wife for her own good, as if his child rather than his marital partner and equal. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2017/08/15/the-nations-teaching-force-is-still-mostly.html

      • Matt said, on March 17, 2019 at 5:46 pm

        You may have missed the point I was trying to make. Evaluations literally serve no purpose (at least in my district); teachers are neither rewarded nor can they be penalized for their rating. So I ask, “why rate at all?”

      • Ted Morrissey said, on March 18, 2019 at 9:25 am

        Your district is highly unusual, from my perspective, Matt. And based on the numbers of people who have read and responded to this blog post over the years, I’m guessing most educators would find your situation out of the mainstream. In Illinois, thanks to weakened seniority and tenure laws, the evaluation process can be used to override seniority and even remove a veteran teacher from the classroom altogether. Even in your district, I suspect that the evaluation process could have a demoralizing effect on teachers.

    • Steve said, on October 13, 2022 at 7:09 am

      Not protected by Unions. Protected by Tenure Law.

  45. Susan said, on March 17, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    Here’s the thing though: when she first published the framework she said it should not be used in the way it is now being used. THEN…. MONEY. She saw the money. Her own company developed and marketed software, books, training, to use it in that very way. Now she’s reversing again?? Nope. Not a Danielson fan. She can fall off the planet, as far as I’m concerned.

  46. Phil said, on March 17, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    I read through the article, as I was very interested in Danielson’s take on her framework as an evaluation tool. I didn’t think I would agree, but she is right about a lot of things.

    Of course, in NJ, your evaluators are more likely to be people with decent classroom experience; they won’t come with a business or finance degree, as in other states. Being a good teacher doesn’t make you a good evaluator, and there is little preparation in grad school for handling teacher evaluations. I am not evaluated in how well my observations are written (just that I follow the process and state guidelines); as an aside, unlike what the article states, I am evaluated on a rubric that is written out somewhat like Danielson, so while teachers do not play a role in my evaluation, I understand what it is like to receive a score in this manner even if the framework is different.

    I find that the Danielson Framework (DF) captures the nuances of teaching better than anything else I’ve seen so far. Placing it in the confines of a scoring rubric set by the state makes it more difficult to appreciate it. Evaluations are personal, and the point of the rubric isn’t to be “nit-picky”, but to help teachers understand where they are and how they can improve.

    To be fair, there is (IMHO) no perfect way to evaluate teachers. The DF is a much better tool than we have used in the past, and the state is trying to make the point of standardizing teacher performance across the state. Hopefully, an effective teacher in our district looks like an effective teacher in another. Using the DF is an imperfect way to achieve that goal, but until there is a better system, the DF is the best method I know to evaluate someone’s teaching abilities.

    At the end of the day, it is about how the administrator uses the DF and handles the evaluation process. I hope that when my teachers leave my office, they understand where they are at and are motivated to become better, instead of leaving my office disgusted and frustrated.

    • Ted Morrissey said, on March 18, 2019 at 8:51 am

      I think the most important point that Danielson makes in her article is that after teachers have received a certain level of professional competence, they shouldn’t be evaluated as beginning teachers are. She doesn’t say tenure specifically, but it seems like a logical mile-marker to me. Once tenure is received, teachers shouldn’t be “evaluated” at all. Professionals can network and even observe each other to exchange ideas, etc. To have a single person sitting in judgment of everyone “below” him or her (probably a him), regardless of his background, level of education, and competence, is a formula for ineffectiveness.

  47. Sharon said, on March 18, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    I would love to say more. But I will just say, “Amen!”

  48. Cheryle said, on March 23, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    The Framework at the exemplary level is nearly impossible if the administrator uses it with fidelity. Impossible standards make for an invalid tool.

  49. Louis said, on May 29, 2019 at 12:11 am

    I have become a victim of this evaluation and was handed a incompetent rating within two observations in one month. A principal with no knowledge in my field made unrealistic and repetitive statements that do not make sense. I have lost years of attending courses to maintain my credentials a Masters degree and halfway into DEd. When applying for a job at another school district, questions are asked and are mandated by law-“Have you every been given a low proficiency rated at your previous position? How about lying to that question when HR calls the school and denials are given. I’ve spent two years trying to get an interview so I can continue my career. The outcome is bankruptcy and becoming homeless and live in fear of how my future is uncertain.
    This evaluation system in the wrong hands is as dangerous as a nurse administering the wrong medication to a patient.

  50. John Kingsbury said, on December 15, 2019 at 12:25 am

    Ms. Danielson has made a fortune and has destroyed education..Now this Judas has remorse with the shekels she has earned…

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