Panel: Designing and Sustaining Effective Teacher Evaluation

Saturday, November 9, 2019: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Governor's Square 17 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizer:  Jessalynn James, Brown University
Panel Chair:  Eric Taylor, Harvard University
Discussants:  Allison Atteberry, University of Colorado, Boulder and Eric Taylor, Harvard University

Teacher evaluation has evolved considerably over the past two decades, with major reforms to the implementation and design of systems that define and rate teachers’ quality. These reforms were enacted with the intention of enhancing the effectiveness of the teacher workforce and, in turn, improving student outcomes. Adoption of these reforms was widespread, with most new systems comprising similar features—notably, formal observations of teachers’ practice, and in many cases measures of teachers’ contributions to student achievement on standardized assessments (Steinberg & Donaldson, 2016; Kraft & Gilmour, 2017; National Council of Teacher Quality, 2017).

     Recent evidence, however, supports mixed conclusions as to these reforms’ success. While some new evaluation programs demonstrated meaningful effects on teacher and student outcomes (Adnot, Dee, Katz, & Wyckoff, 2017; Dee & Wyckoff, 2015; Steinberg & Sartain, 2015; Taylor & Tyler, 2012), others were less successful at differentiating teachers’ quality and driving improvements (Kraft & Gilmour, 2017; Stecher, Holzman, Garet, Hamilton, Engberg, & Steiner, 2018). The four papers on this panel shed new light on the implications of teacher evaluation for student and teacher outcomes, as well as how an evaluation system’s design may influence its effectiveness and sustainability in the longer term.

     The first two papers in this panel examine the effects of rigorous teacher evaluation for teachers scoring at explicit performance thresholds. The first paper, Improving Teaching Practice and Student Learning: The Role of Teacher Evaluation, explores the effects of Chicago Public School’s teacher evaluation system on teachers’ practice, students’ perceptions of their teaching, and student achievement outcomes. The second paper, Is Effective Teacher Evaluation Sustainable? Evidence From DCPS, looks at whether the high stakes embedded in the District of Columbia’s evaluation system induce differential attrition and performance improvements, as intended, and whether these effects persist in the face of changes to the evaluation program and the district at large. The third paper, Teacher Evaluation and Discipline Referrals, also explores effects of high-stakes teacher evaluation, but in terms of unintended effects; specifically, the authors ask whether high-stakes evaluations lead to higher rates of disciplinary referrals. The final paper on this panel, In Search of High-Quality Evaluation Feedback: An Administrator Training Field Experiment, explores evaluation and feedback as a tool for teacher improvement through a field experiment meant to improve evaluator’s feedback on teachers’ instruction, along with descriptive evidence on the quality of the feedback teachers receive.

     Together, these four papers provide new insights into the ways in which teacher evaluation can affect teacher quality, as well as the experiences and outcomes of students whose teachers are being evaluated.

Improving Teaching Practice and Student Learning: The Role of Teacher Evaluation
Lauren Sartain, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Matthew P. Steinberg, University of Pennsylvania

Is Effective Teacher Evaluation Sustainable? Evidence from DCPS
Thomas Dee1, Jessalynn James2 and James Wyckoff2, (1)Stanford University, (2)University of Virginia

Teacher Evaluation and Discipline Referrals
David D. Liebowitz, Lorna Porter and Dylan Bragg, University of Oregon

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