New Report Makes the Case for Building Better Teacher Evaluation Systems that Benefit Teachers and Students

Contact: Jeanne Bliss

jbliss@4teachingexcellence.org

213-489-3002

 

LOS ANGELES  (September 29, 2011) – A report released today by Communities for Teaching Excellence makes clear the vital need for states and districts to develop and adopt teacher evaluation systems that provide substantive feedback for teachers and accurately reflect their impact on student achievement. The report urges policymakers and educators to abandon the usual “drive-by” evaluations found in schools across the country and instead implement “fair evaluation systems” based on multiple measures. 

Knowing that teachers have the single biggest impact on student achievement—more than any other factor in the school—Communities for Teaching Excellence believes that designing sensible, thorough teacher evaluations is a necessary step in providing effective teaching to students in every classroom, every year.

“In order to ensure effective teaching for every child and close the persistent achievement gap that separates poor students and students of color from their peers, stakeholders must work together to create thoughtful systems for evaluating and supporting teachers,” said Yolie Flores, CEO of Communities for Teaching Excellence. “A number of states and school districts have already shown us that collaboratively designed evaluation systems are both feasible and beneficial to teachers and students alike.”

The report, Making it Meaningful: Building a Fair Evaluation System, marshals findings from numerous large-scale studies and reviews recent efforts to design new evaluation systems in Houston, Texas, and the state of Delaware. The report finds that while each community may approach teacher evaluation differently, research indicates that there are certain essential components that should be included in any truly comprehensive evaluation system.

The report also notes that evaluation systems should not be punitive and should not exist in a vacuum; rather, they must be tied to useful information and professional development so that teachers can improve their practices. Numerous surveys have found that teachers are eager for better and more consistent feedback on their classroom work. 

For example:

  • In a 2008 survey of more than 1,000 teachers, only 26 percent reported that their most recent formal evaluation was “useful and effective” (Duffett).
  • A 2011 survey found that 75 percent of teachers prefer having a principal who “frequently observes my classroom and gives me detailed feedback on how I’m doing” (Cogshall, et al.).

In addition to being developed collaboratively, the report recommends evaluation systems include the following essential elements (pp. 3-5):

  • “Multiple measures”
  • Meaningful differentiation
  • Feedback
  • Student performance data
  • Consequences

Recognizing the tremendous value of thorough observations and meaningful feedback, Delaware adopted a system in which each teacher is evaluated at least four times throughout the year and receives feedback on student progress, classroom observations, performance, and professional growth. Their new evaluation process is detailed in the report released today.

“A growing number of school districts are modifying or overhauling their existing systems with the goal of producing better results for students and teachers alike,” says Flores. “Such systems include, but are not limited to Denver, CO, Hillsborough County, FL, Houston, TX, Memphis, TN, Pittsburgh, PA, and a consortium of charter management organizations in Los Angeles called The College-Ready Promise. We can and must learn from their efforts.” 

By learning from certain pioneering efforts and studying the best practices documented in Making it Meaningful: Building a Fair Evaluation System, communities throughout the country can advocate for implementing evaluation systems that genuinely benefit teachers and help raise student achievement.

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Communities for Teaching Excellence, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, works to improve students’ academic achievement and their futures by empowering communities to advocate for effective teaching for every student, in every classroom, every year. 

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