A new report on teacher evaluation systems, authored by Linda Darling-Hammond, was released by the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (or SCOPE) last week. The report, Creating a Comprehensive System for Evaluating and Supporting Effective Teaching, outlines an integrated approach that connects the goals of teacher preparation and development to “a teaching-career continuum and a professional development system that supports effectiveness for all teachers at every stage of their careers.”
At the outset of the report, Darling-Hammond clarifies what she means by “teacher quality” and “teaching quality.” Teacher quality is “the bundle of personal traits, skills, and understandings an individual brings to teaching,” while teaching quality refers to “strong instruction that enables a wide range of students to learn.” Therefore, teaching quality is a function of teacher quality—in conjunction with other important factors, such as curriculum and assessment systems, class time and size, facilities, materials, etc.
A high quality teacher evaluation system, in addition to providing clear standards for student learning and high-quality curriculum materials and assessments, should include five key elements:
- Common statewide standards for teaching related to meaningful student learning and are shared across the profession. These standards should guide preparation, licensing, observations and evaluations, and ongoing professional learning.
- Performance assessments, based on statewide standards, guiding state functions such as teacher prep, licensure, and advanced certification.
- Local evaluation systems aligned to the same standards, which assess on-the-job teaching based on multiple measures of teaching practice and student learning.
- Support structures to ensure trained evaluators, mentoring for teachers, and fair decisions about personnel actions.
- Aligned professional learning opportunities that support the improvement of teachers and teaching quality.
Darling-Hammond also reflects on value-added models for student learning, and asserts that current measures are unreliable and invalid. She does not argue that VAM should be left out of assessment systems, just that they need to be tempered with other measures of student learning to give a full, accurate picture of what is happening inside a teacher’s classroom.
Overall, Darling-Hammond concludes that based on the available research, the necessary criterion for successful teacher evaluation systems are:
- Teacher evaluation should be based on professional teaching standards and sophisticated enough to assess teaching quality across the continuum of development from novice to expert teacher.
- Evaluations should include multifaceted evidence of teacher practice, student learning, and professional contributions that are considered in an integrated fashion.
- Evaluators should be knowledgeable about instruction and well trained in the evaluation system, including how to give productive feedback.
- Evaluation should be accompanied by useful feedback, and connected to professional development opportunities relevant to teachers’ goals and needs.
- The evaluation system should value and encourage teacher collaboration, both in the standards and criteria used to assess teachers’ work, and in the way results are used to shape PD.
- Expert teachers should be part of the assistance and review process for new teachers and for teachers needing extra assistance.
- Panels of teachers and administrators should oversee the evaluation process to ensure that it is thorough and of high quality, as well as fair and reliable.
To read the full report, please visit http://edpolicy.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/creating-comprehensive-system-evaluating-and-supporting-effective-teaching_1.pdf