New Evidence on the Impact of Reforms to Teacher and Principal Evaluation and Compensation on Teacher, Principal, and Student Outcomes
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
- The impact of providing performance feedback to teachers and principals;
- The implementation and impact of providing pay-performance-performance bonuses to teachers and principals; and
- The impact of reforms to teacher evaluation in Chicago.
The two discussants bring distinct perspectives:
- Rebecca Maynard brings a range of relevant perspectives from a career in academia and recent experience in government. She brings extensive background in research methods and was methods editor for both JPAM and JREE.
- Peter Youngs is an academic focused on teacher policy. He recently co-edited the 2015 volume Improving Teacher Evaluation Systems: Making the Most of Multiple Measures and serves as an editor for EEPA.
The remainder of this introduction provides the shared context for the panel, including research and policy.
A variety of evidence indicates that educator quality is a lever for improving student achievement. For example, teachers explain more variation in student achievement than any other school-based factor and affect later life outcomes. There is good evidence that principals, too, differ in their leadership performance in ways that have consequences student achievement.
Given the importance of educator quality, many have expressed concerns about educator evaluation systems and compensation practices. Critics point to research showing that most teacher evaluation systems rely on limited data (e.g., infrequent classroom observations) and identify only a small percentage of teachers as unsatisfactory. As a result, low-performing teachers may not feel pressure to improve, and school systems have little basis for rewarding and retaining effective teachers.
In this context, federal policy supported reform of teacher and principal evaluation and compensation over a period of several years.
- In 2006, federal policy makers created the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) program, a competitive grant program to support states and districts implementing performance-based pay for educators.
- As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, federal policy makers boosted funding for the TIF program and called for broader reforms to teacher and principal evaluation through the Race to the Top (RTT) program, which gave states and districts support to develop evaluation systems that: differentiate between lower and higher performing educators, incorporate information about student achievement, and provide meaningful feedback on educator practices.
- Beginning in 2011, the Obama administration pursued the RTT program’s objectives using the Secretary of Education’s authority to waive provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The administration granted states waivers to several federal requirements in exchange for reforms to teacher and principal evaluation and other reforms.
- Through the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Grant Program replaced the TIF program. Though it supports a broader range of activities than TIF, grantees can use grant resources to reform evaluation and compensation.
Although federal programs are no longer driving changes to educator evaluation and compensation, many states and districts that adopted new evaluation system practices in the last decade continue to use them today, consider additional reforms.