Friday, June 1, 2012

Measuring Teacher Effectiveness

Research and experience make this clear: Great teachers change lives. They inspire and motivate students, and set them on a path for future success. By contrast, just one underperforming teacher can have a lasting negative impact on a student.

Given this reality, significant time and attention has rightly been focused on ensuring that all children have outstanding teachers at the front of their classrooms. This includes improving how teacher performance is evaluated and using evaluations to guide a range of decisions about prepration, recruitment, training, assignment, salary, tenure and dismissal.

As states, districts and school systems across the nation work towards effective teacher evaluation systems, they must tackle difficult questions about design and implementation. This research report aims to help by offering a detailed look at the key components of 10 teacher evaluation models.

Conducted by Public Impact, Measuring Teacher Effectiveness: A Look “Under the Hood” of Teacher Evaluation in 10 Sites looks at evaluation efforts in three states (Delaware, Rhode Island, and Tennessee), five large districts (Hillsborough County, FL; Houston, TX; New Haven, CT; Pittsburgh, PA; and Washington, DC), one charter management organization (Achievement First), and the Relay Graduate School of Education. ConnCAN and 50CAN jointly commissioned the report, with support of the H.A. Vance Foundation.

The report pays particular attention to the design and implementation challenges that many states and districts face, including: 1) student achievement measures; 2) classroom observations; 3) other non-academic measures; 4) accuracy, validity, and reliability; and 5) reporting and using evaluation results.

None of these systems is perfect, but they do show us possible paths forward. Each site continually—and rightly—refines and improves its evaluation system. As other school systems take on this work, we hope this report will help education leaders develop their own paths forward. Each site in the report offers proof that we can—and must—move forward with smart, balanced, and fair evaluations of a teacher’s impact on student performance and growth. Such evaluation systems are fundamental to ensuring great teachers for every child. Because great schools, and great teachers, change everything.