More often than not, the disconnect between teacher evaluations and actual improvements in the academic quality of a school or district occurs when teachers are not given adequate or applicable feedback based on observations and assessments. It’s all well and good to say that a specific teacher needs to meet a teaching standard, but failing to connect that standard to specific professional learning opportunities can stifle progress. Here are some best practices for making the most out of the time you invest in teacher observations and evaluations with teacher feedback that’s aligned with your school or district’s teaching and learning goals.
The world of teacher evaluations is vast, dynamic, and difficult to navigate when trying to remain in compliance. A report from the Center for Public Education outlines how widely teacher evaluations can differ from state to state—13 states require state-mandated evaluation systems, 21 states allow districts to design their own framework that complies with state standards, while the remaining 17 states fall somewhere in between these two ends. The goal of all the various state-mandates for teacher evaluations remains the same: to promote the growth and development of educators.
School districts across the U.S. are building new teacher evaluation systems to better identify the markers of effective teaching, but teachers are frequently seeing that the professional development designed to help them focus on areas that need improvement often lack subject matter related to their teacher evaluation systems. Below is a list of common issues in the evaluation and professional development process—and some suggestions of how to avoid them.
Effective teaching is arguably the most important factor in student success. In terms of closing the achievement gap between students from wealthy and underserved communities and between white and minority students, there is no greater determining factor than the presence (or lack thereof) of quality teachers.
More direction and feedback lead to improved teaching practices, which result in greater student achievement. We all know that, but do we have the tools (and time) to get it right?
The conversation surrounding teacher evaluations is undoubtedly a controversial one. The notion that a teacher’s effectiveness rating is tied directly to student performance on standardized tests has resulted in certain vacuous learning environments, ones that prioritize regurgitation of test materials over more creative approaches to learning. The Gates Foundation found that “two-thirds of American teachers feel that traditional observations don’t accurately capture the full picture of what they do in the classroom.”