Study: Teacher Data Remain Untapped

A new study shows that, despite the increased use of value-added data and other forms of teacher evaluation such as student or teacher surveys, first-hand principal observation of teachers remains the most trusted and used means by which decisions are made about teacher improvement. In other words, data are available, but not being used.

The study goes beyond simply pointing out the problem, however. It suggests that the major obstacles to principals making using of the various forms of data showing teacher proficiency are time, timing, technology, training, and a lack of trust.

Here is an excerpt from the article that discusses this in more detail:

Eighty-three percent of principals, for example, said timing was a minor to strong barrier in using teacher-effectiveness data. Student-achievement data, teacher value-added scores, and survey results, for example, arrived after decisions about renewals and placements had been made. And 75 percent of the principals listed a lack of time as a barrier to using the data.

Researchers also found that principals, in some cases, were already using teacher-effectiveness data to identify their teachers’ strengths and weaknesses and to target support and professional development. In those districts, the central office had acknowledged the importance of data use, communicated to staff the kind of data that should be used for specific decisions, and made it easier for staff members to access the data. Some provided professional support to help principals, Ms. Goldring said.

The study, “Principal Use of Teacher Effectiveness Measures for Talent Management Decisions,” was conducted by a team of Vanderbilt University researchers.

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