REL Researchers, State Experts Discuss Teacher Evaluation Systems
|May 1, 2012|
Boston, MA – On April 23, REL Northeast and Islands hosted and the New England Comprehensive Center co-sponsored a Bridge Webinar exploring characteristics of performance-based teacher evaluation (PBTE) systems and challenges to successfully developing and implementing them. What should new evaluation systems measure? How can they be used to help teachers improve?
“A lot has been made of the lack of rigor of evaluation systems that use binary rating scales, in which teachers are simply judged satisfactory or unsatisfactory, and the new systems are really designed to capture more of the variation among teachers and their practice,” said Karen Shakman, the researcher for REL-NEI’s Northeast Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance and the main presenter on the webinar.
Shakman presented findings from an Issues & Answers Report she authored with her REL-NEI colleagues, “An Examination of Performance-Based Teacher Evaluation Systems in Five States,” which was published in February by the Institute of Education Sciences. The report describes key characteristics of statewide PBTE systems implemented in Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas in the 2010–11 school year, including the teacher-effectiveness measures and multiple rating categories each system employed. It also found that the evaluation rubrics used in each state reflected most of the knowledge and skills found in the teaching standards of the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium.
Martha Ann Todd, Director of Teacher and Leader Effectiveness for the Georgia Department of Education and a discussant on the webinar, provided an update, since the report’s completion, on her state’s PBTE system, which will roll out statewide in 2014–15.
“We’re working to build a system that provides an opportunity for teachers to demonstrate their best practice over time, to demonstrate their ability to impact student learning, and that will allow us to provide professional learning opportunities, growth opportunities, and coaching for teachers who are needing to improve in certain areas,” she said.
Georgia’s measures for evaluating teacher performance include multiple classroom observations and documentation and, eventually, data on students’ perceptions of their teachers’ practice and data on student academic growth. Teachers can receive one of four possible annual ratings: Exemplary, Proficient, Developing/Needs Improvement, and Ineffective.
Angela Minnici, deputy director of the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality, emphasized the importance of high-quality evaluation systems for driving improved teaching and learning, and she urged state education agencies to use their capacity to effectively train evaluators and to support districts in providing professional development that targets individual teachers’ areas for growth.
More than 75 people participated in the 90-minute webinar, and their questions included:
- Do you have any research that helps us to understand how many observations are important to conduct for each teacher each year?
- If teachers are found to be ineffective, will there be professional development available for these teachers to improve?
- Can you talk about research on validity of using teacher and parent “surveys” to evaluate teachers’ effectiveness (and then tying those survey results to teachers’ job security and salary increases)?
Additional presenters included:
- Karla Brooks Baehr, retired Deputy Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, who described her state’s new evaluation system;
- Julie Riordan, REL-NEI’s Applied Research and Evaluation Manager and co-author of the featured IES Report; and
- Susan Mundry, Facilitator of the Northeast Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance.