Passing Muster: Evaluating Teacher Evaluation Systems
In state capitals across the nation, policy makers and education reformers are calling for more rigorous teacher evaluation systems. In its latest report, Passing Muster: Evaluating Teacher Evaluation Systems, the Brookings Institution describes a mathematical framework for assessing the effectiveness of evaluation systems. The report accompanies and explains the reasoning behind an evaluation system effectiveness calculator developed by the Institution. The calculator assesses teacher evaluation systems that use student value-added data, based on five criteria:
- Differentiation. The evaluation system should rate teachers so that a meaningful spectrum of teacher effectiveness can be observed (e.g. 99% of teachers rated effective is not acceptable).
- Correlation. Differentiation should be based on teacher characteristics that are likely to significantly influence student achievement.
- Consistency. Evaluations provided by the system should be predictable from year to year: A teacher rated “highly effective” in one year should receive a similar rating in future years.
- Diverse methodology. The evaluation system should not use value-added data alone, but should also use classroom observations and/or other methods to produce a more complete picture of a teacher’s effectiveness.
- Universality. Because of diverse methodologies, all teachers, even those for whom no value-added data is available, should be able to be evaluated by the system.
Many states and districts do not favor a universal teacher evaluation system and would prefer to develop their own systems instead. The report proposes that this calculator be used to set standards for such localized systems, thereby creating a national standard by which to judge teacher evaluation systems but not mandating a national system. The report suggests that this might be accomplished by including the calculator or a similar tool in a reauthorization of ESEA.
The Passing Muster model may prove problematic in some ways, as some critics contend, but the report raises important issues regarding the creation and implementation of effective teacher evaluation systems. In Ohio, recent amendments to HB 153 (Governor Kasich’s budget bill) would require districts to use student value-added data as at least 50 percent of teacher evaluations and to lay off teachers in order of evaluation rating, not seniority. These reforms are certainly a much-needed improvement, but implementation will be the deciding factor in whether or not the new evaluation systems will actually be effective.
Passing Muster: Evaluating Teacher
Steven Glazerman, et al.
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