While value-added teacher assessments have received a boost from the recent NBER study, virtually everyone in the education field — from scorched earth reformers to heels planted status quo defenders — still agrees that teacher evaluations need to include more than just test scores. So how should administrators evaluate classroom performance?
One obvious answer: at greater length and more frequently. But some preliminary findings from the Gates Foundation’s Measurement of Effective Teaching (MET) project suggest some other guidelines as well.
First on their list is “Choose an observation instrument that sets clear expectations. That means defining a set of teaching competencies and providing specific examples of the different performance levels on each.”
I want to return to this standard, and take a look at the recently released Utah Teaching Standards to see how well they fit the bill.
But first, let me mention some of the other MET findings.
- “Observers should be expected to demonstrate their ability to generate accurate observations and should be recertified periodically.”
- “When high-stakes decisions are being made, multiple observations are necessary.”
- “At least a representative subset of teachers should be observed by impartial observers with no personal relationship to the teacher.”
- Observations should be “combined with student achievement gains and student feedback, ” AND school districts should “regularly verify that teachers with stronger observation scores also have stronger achievement gains on average.”
This all makes great sense to me, especially since the MET proposals would help protect teachers against biased administrators, would help protect administrators against charges of bias, and would help protect students against teachers and administrators allied against uncomfortable but necessary change.
Here’s a link to the study:
And here’s a link to the January, 2012 Utah teaching standards: