The administration wants states to define “effective teachers” and “effective principals” based on student progress, classroom observations and other measures. National Journal’s Education Experts tackle the question: What defines effective educators?
Defining is easy, but measuring is hard, writes Checker Finn.
An effective teacher is one whose pupils learn what they should while under his/her tutelage. An effective principal is one whose school attains state standards, pupils learn what they should, etc.
. . . The hard part is developing and fairly applying a reliable set of metrics by which to gauge success, hence effectiveness. All sorts of experiments and pilot programs are under way along these lines (e.g. the Gates Foundation’s “deep dive” districts) and America needs plenty more such. . . . American education has finally accepted the key reality that what matters about a school (or a teacher) is not the intentions, resources, efforts or activities that go in but, rather, the learning that comes out.
Measuring effectiveness is doable, adds Ariela Rozman of The New Teacher Project. No one measure can do the job, but we can combine test scores, teacher-generated assessments and classroom observations to “paint a clear picture of how successfully each teacher is helping students make academic progress and master material.”
The tools to measure student growth that we have right now may not be perfect, but they’re very good. The only way they’ll improve is if we actually start using and perfecting them, instead of throwing our hands up and walking away from the challenge.
Teachers need feedback to grow as professionals, Rozman writes.