A report on a study of Chicago’s Pilot Teacher evaluation system was released last month by the Consortium on Chicago School Research. In 2008, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) launched the Excellence in Teaching Pilot (ETP), aimed at revamping the teacher evaluation system. The pilot was motivated by two factors: the current evaluation system had no mechanism for providing teachers with meaningful and useful feedback on their practice, and it lacked a way to differentiate between the best teachers, good teachers, and poor teachers.
The ETP took place over a two-year period and was designed “to drive instructional improvement by providing teachers with evidence-based feedback on their strengths and weaknesses.” The pilot included training and support for principals and teachers, and principal observations of teachers were conducted twice per year using the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching, followed by conferences between the principal and teacher.
Overall, the researchers found the ETP to be an improvement on traditional evaluation systems, working as it was designed and intended to. There were challenges, such as weak instructional coaching skills and lack of buy-in among principals. Specifically:
1. The classroom observation ratings were valid measures of teaching practice (i.e., student test scores reflected the evaluation scores of teachers).
2. The classroom observation ratings were reliable measures of teaching practice, meaning that principals and trained observers watching the same lesson consistently rated the teacher the same. However, it was found that 11% of principals consistently gave lower scores than the observers and 17% consistently rated teachers higher.
3. Principals and teachers agreed that conferences were more reflective, objective, and useful for improving practice than in the past. However, it was noted that many principals lack the appropriate coaching skills required to have deep discussions about teaching practice.
4. Over half of principals were highly engaged in the new system. Those who were not said it was too labor-intensive.
To read the full report, please visit http://ccsr.uchicago.edu/publications/Teacher%20Eval%20Report%20FINAL.pdf
**On a related note, Education Week hosted a free webinar on principal evaluations earlier this week. The presenters were Michael Schooley, deputy executive director for the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and Steven Ross, professor at the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University. You can access the archived recording of “Making Principal Evaluations Count” at http://www.edweek.org/ew/marketplace/webinars/webinars.html