Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness

Over the last few months I’ve posted a few pieces related to the ways in which teacher performance is evaluated. There are many who say that they want to see a scenario in education that promotes excellence in standards and that this will never really happen without ways to differentiate according to the standards and quality of teaching, and to differentiate rewards and recognition for teachers. In the most extreme, can there ever be excellence in a system that fails to identify and address issues of chronic under-performance?

The earlier articles focused upon the debate in the US about the relative merits of evaluating teachers on performance of the learners (in standardized State level tests), value added and through classroom observations. Whilst we can all see the perils of focus on test results, there have long been criticisms from teachers that classroom observations were open to appraiser bias, favouritism and undue subjectivity.

So, I was very interested to come across this interview with Charlotte Danielson who is considered to be one of the leading experts in this area in the US. She provides a good starting point for understanding the framework that she recommends and talks of some of the positives and perils of utilizing observational techniques to gauge teacher effectiveness:

Edweek Blog – Interview with Charlotte Danielson

I found Danielson’s approach refreshing, sensitive to the anxieties that teachers can experience around such practices, but also bold and clear in taking as a ‘given’ that whatever happens in every teacher’s class all the time is the business of the school, the parents and the education system. We have an education system that is crying out for real, genuine accountability. The best teachers have nothing to fear from such accountability – in fact they stand a better chance of having their work recognized.

The only one hesitation I have is that such systems imply that all the learning in schools (and all the responsibility of teachers exists) only in the classrooms during defined lesson periods. In fact, I believe we need ways that evaluate far more holistically the impact that teachers are having on pupils. For this, we may need more ‘professional’ style appraisal and performance management systems like in companies that take a far more holistic approach towards an individual’s overall performance.

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2 Responses

  1. I can’t imagine running our language learning business (inlingua) without a sensitive, supportive teacher observation system. This, along with continual training support, is critical to keeping up our training standards.

    Mohit Satyanand

    • Somehow, environments within which adults are trained/ taught have often embraced far more ‘corporate’ cultures than schools where children are taught – this isn’t just my experience in India but elsewhere as well.

      By way of example, you can look at teaching ‘contact hours’. In the ELT (English Language teaching) field it’s not unusual to see people recruited on the basis of teaching 24-30 contact hours (actual live time in the classroom with students) per week. However, if you were to suggest such teaching hours in schools, ………… well, i just suggest you don’t!!

      And, there’s something similar when it comes to openness to performance management systems.

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