First Glance at Teacher Effectiveness Data

April 13, 2011 at 10:55 AM 4 comments

How can we create a climate of continuous quality improvement for educators? The job is complex,; the work is difficult, and the intangibles are highly valued. And, no matter how well the students perform each year…a new cohort arrives and the process starts all over again.

Each year, teachers are hired, provided job descriptions and terms of engagement, and assigned course loads and student rosters. Textbooks, curricular objectives, and pacing guides may be available. Orientation sets expectations for the culture, academic goals, policy, and procedures of the school. Day one ends and the business of educating students begins.

Facing one’s job as a teacher can be daunting. A complex mix of lonely autonomy, resource constraints, and unpredictable challenges must be met with courage, resilience, and flexibility. Often, time is the scarcest commodity, and the start of a new school year marks the end of personal leisure time and lifestyle choices. Students come first, and teaching them must be its own reward.

This would seem like an administrator’s dream – highly motivated people wanting to do what is best for children. However, it is that same independent spirit and devotion that creates conflict in teacher evaluations. How do you create a climate of continuous quality improvement for a collection of individual contributors whose motives are so sincere and whose commitment is so complete as to be deemed beyond reproach?

Some ground rules are needed…

  • Level the playing field for all teachers. No good guy/bad guy dichotomy. Teachers resist even minor constructive criticism in a culture marked by exemplars and losers.
  • Create teacher effectiveness reports and share and validate the data before implementation.
  • Balance the subjective content with generous quantities of objective data that link accountability to parameters under each teacher’s control.
  • Be sure to include any behavior that is valued in the tool. Attendance may not be the most highly valued attribute, but if you presume it, you will lose it.
  • Limit the impact of data gathering for teacher effectiveness reports with automation, student participation, and integration into existing routines.

So, how do you evaluate teacher effectiveness? How well that teacher does his or her job must be assessed using a variety of data sources to answer a range of questions. Some are as simple as what were the most basic terms of engagement, and were they met? Or, did you hire a “whole” teacher or one who has qualifiers concerning readiness to teach? Did the teacher fulfill contingencies for continued employment, make reasonable progress toward continued preparation? What are the values of the school? Did the teacher support the culture in a positive way? For example, did the teacher collaborate effectively, resolve conflicts well, support collegiality?

What was the outcome for the students? Were students engaged in education? Did students complete the course successfully? Were they satisfied with the teacher/instruction? What did their portfolios show about their instruction and assessment? How well did they perform on formal assessments? How did their parents respond to their educational experience? Too many questions, but I would rather design a tool around too many than too few.

1st Draft  of Teacher Effectiveness Framework


Data Source

Data Use

Is the teacher meeting basic terms of employment? HR record Attendance, participation in professional development, professional conduct
Is the teacher highly qualified? HR Profile Credentials, progress on plans
Is the teacher meeting curricular expectations? Teacher planning documents Evidence of unit plans, robust lesson prep with differentiation
Student notebooks Evidence of course content
School-wide curriculum tracking system Adherence to pacing guides, content standards
Is the teacher maintaining a safe and effective classroom environment? Continual classroom walk-throughs, casual observation Visible evidence of student-centered design, organizational support, student engagement, and visual content reinforcement
Record of interventions Discipline issues, pro-active problem-solving
Are the students successful? Attendance record Attendance rates, patterns
Local assessments Scores on assignments, informal tests, formal assessments
Student portfolios Samples of student work, student record of academic and psychosocial accomplishments, peer review
Student report cards Pass rates, grade distribution
Student follow-up records Advanced placement, graduation rates
Student’s actual and predicted scores on standardized tests Teacher value-added to test scores
Parent surveys Parent satisfaction with instruction, classroom environment
Can the teacher deliver a strong composite snapshot of his or her practice? Classroom observation Teacher’s practice in action
Peri-observation data bank Documentation of practice in terms of curricular goals, lesson prep, student record and work samples, teacher’s standard records and personal progress data
Pre and post-observation conference Teacher’s reflectiveness, response to feedback
Does the teacher support the school’s culture and values? Teacher peer review Evidence of collaboration, vertical course alignment, professional conflict resolution
Professional development portfolio Contribution to school culture and value system, participation in organizational growth goals, personal growth record

This  is just a starting point for discussion. Many issues remain for customized format, such as…

  • How well developed was the assignment in terms of deliverables? How creatively was the gap between defined and discretionary deliverables closed? Was the program academically rigorous?
  • Was there unusual challenge in the course load and roster? Is there hardship duty to be assessed?
  • Were there added dimensions of special needs or English language proficiency? Did this involve co-teaching or unique curricular requirements?

Comments welcomed.



Entry filed under: Teacher Effectiveness. Tags: , , , .

Thoughts on English Language Learning Data on Social and Emotional Development

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