Teacher Evaluation Measures – What Are They Good For?
Friday, November 13, 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Tequesta (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Matthew Kraft, Brown University
Panel Chairs: Steven Glazerman, Mathematica Policy Research
Discussants: David Figlio, Northwestern University and Martin West, Harvard University
District- and state-level efforts to remake teacher evaluation systems are among the most substantial and widely adopted reforms that U.S. public schools have experienced in decades. These reforms were motivated in large part by research documenting that teachers have large effects on student learning, and that existing evaluation systems were perfunctory and narrowly focused on compliance. The Obama administration has sought to strengthen teacher quality by making teacher evaluation reforms the centerpiece of its signature education initiative, Race To The Top, as well as state-waivers to No Child Left Behind. Today, more than 40 states have enacted new legislation aimed at strengthening and expanding teacher evaluation systems in public schools.
Research on this next generation of evaluation systems has focused overwhelmingly on the validity and reliability of value-added measures. We still know relatively little about two widely used but understudied evaluation measures – classroom observations and student learning objectives. This panel will examine the properties of these measures and the ways in which they can be used to improve teacher performance. Our first two papers present new evidence on the bias, reliability, and predictive validity of scores derived from classroom observations. Both papers leverage large-scale data on classroom observation scores from the Framework For Teaching (FFT) rubric. These papers shed new light on the degree to which teachers’ scores from the FFT are sensitive to student characteristics in a classroom and the observer who assigns ratings.
Our second pair of papers examines two avenues through which teacher evaluation measures are being used to improve teacher performance: feedback from class observations and financial incentives based on student learning objectives. Many educators see evaluation as a process that can support the professional growth of teachers by providing individualized feedback. We examine teachers’ perspectives on the quality of feedback they are receiving based on classroom observation and evaluate a program to train principals to provide higher-quality feedback. Other scholars and journalists view evaluation as a mechanism for increasing teacher effort through accountability and incentives. Our final paper provides among the first evidence on use of student learning objects defined by individual teachers as well as on the effectiveness of an incentive pay program based on these measures. Together, these four papers provide policymakers with an integrated assessment of the potential and pitfalls of human resource policies based on evaluation measures.