National Education Policy Brief: Designing teacher evaluations

25 Sep

Teacher evaluation is a hot topic. Moi wrote in Report: Measuring teacher effectiveness:

Public Impact has a produced a report, Measuring Teacher Effectiveness: A Look “Under the Hood” of Teacher Evaluation in 10 Sites which examines teacher evaluation efforts in three states. So, how is teacher effectiveness measured? Well, kids know good teaching when they see it. Donna Gordon Blankinship of AP reports in the Seattle Times article, How Do You Find An Effective Teacher? Ask A Kid

Adults may be a little surprised by some of the preliminary findings of new research on what makes a great teacher.

How do you find the most effective teachers? Ask your kids. That’s one of four main conclusions of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and its research partners after the first year of its Measures of Effective Teaching Project.

Preliminary results of the study were posted online Friday; a more complete report is expected in April, according to the foundation….

The first four conclusions of the study are as follows:

-The average student knows effective teaching when he or she experiences it.

-In every grade and every subject, a teacher’s past success in raising student achievement on state tests is one of the strongest predictors of his or her ability to do so again.

-The teachers with the highest value-added scores on state tests, which show improvement by individual students during the time they were in their classroom, are also the teachers who do the best job helping their students understand math concepts or demonstrate reading comprehension through writing.

-Valid feedback does not need to come from test scores alone. Other data can give teachers the information they need to improve, including student opinions of how organized and effective a teacher is….

See,Students Know Good Teaching When They Get It, Survey Finds

Dr William Mathis of the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education has written a policy brief which focuses on teacher evaluation.

Here is the press release for Research-Based Options for Education Policy Making:

New Brief Offers Suggestions for Teacher Evaluation Design


William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058,

URL for this press release:

BOULDER, CO (September 20, 2012) –The first in a new series of two-page briefs summarizing the state of play in education policy research offers suggestions for policymakers designing teacher evaluation systems.

The paper is written by Dr. William Mathis, managing director of the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

Mathis summarizes research findings on the effects of teacher evaluation systems, including unintended as well as intended consequences. At a time when teacher evaluation controversies in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and other school districts have erupted—particularly over the issue of evaluations based in part on the growth of students’ test scores—understanding the evidence about these issues has taken on new urgency.

Mathis counsels that lawmakers should be wary of approaches based in large part on test scores, because of three problems:
1.      The measurement error is large—which results in many teachers being incorrectly labeled as effective or ineffective;
2.      Given that only certain grade levels and subject areas are tested, relevant test scores are not available for most teachers; and
3.      The incentives created by the high-stakes use of test scores drive undesirable teaching practices such as curriculum narrowing and teaching to the test.

Instead, he advocates systems like peer assistance and review (PAR) that de-emphasize test scores. Such systems are more labor intensive but that have “far greater potential to enrich instruction and improve education.” He also advocates balancing summative, high-stakes assessment systems “with formative approaches that identify strengths and weaknesses of teachers and directly focus on developing and improving their teaching.”

In any case, “Given the extensive range of activities, skills, and knowledge involved in teachers’ daily work, the system’s goals must be clear, explicit and reflect practitioner involvement,” Mathis says.

This two-page brief is part of Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking, a multipart brief that takes up a number of important policy issues and identifies policies supported by research. Each section focuses on a different issue, and its recommendations to policymakers are based on the latest scholarship.

Find William Mathis’s brief on the NEPC website at:

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on the NEPC, please visit

This brief is also found on the GLC website at


William J. Mathis

September 20, 2012

Research-Based Options for Education Policy Making is a 10-part brief that takes up important policy issues and identifies policies supported by research.  Each section focuses on a different issue, and its recommendations for policymakers are based on the latest scholarship. 


Section 1:  Teacher Evaluation.  After reviewing different types of evaluative methods, Mathis points out the importance of using a combination of methods, of including all stakeholders in decision-making about evaluation systems, and of investing in the evaluation system

Section 2:  Common Core State Standards    

Section 3:  Preschool Education

Section 4:  Effective School Expenditures

Section 5:  Funding Formulas and Choice

Section 6:  English Language Learners Parent Involvement

Section 7:  Dropout Strategies

Section 8:  21st Century College and Career Ready

Section 9:  LGBT Safety Policies

Section 10:  Detracking

Policy Brief Download

The Center has produced a report, which focuses on teacher evaluation.Teacher Evaluation  Proper evaluation seems to be key to both addressing many problems teacher tenure was developed to protect from faulty evaluation of a teacher and to improve the quality of those in the teaching profession. Evaluation is just one component, however. New teachers need a proper induction into the profession and mentors to help them hone their skills and methods of teaching. If problems emerge, teachers need proper training and coaching to progress.


Study: Teacher merit pay works in some situations

Manhattan Institute study: Evidence that ‘value-added modeling’ may be effective                                               

The attempt to evaluate teacher colleges is getting nasty

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Other blogs by Dr. Wilda:


Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                

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