Observation matches value-added data

Elementary teachers rated well by observers also were rated as high-performing by a value-added analysis of their students’ progress, concludes a Consortium for Chicago School Research report on Chicago’s teacher evaluation pilot. Low observation ratings also matched poor value-added data.

A similar correlation was found in several studies on Cincinnati’s teacher-evaluation system, notes Teacher Beat.

Both principals and external evaluators observed and assessed teachers’ classroom performance.

• Principals and observers gave similar numbers of lower scores, but principals gave the top rating more often than the other observers did, across all 10 of the evaluations standards. Interestingly, much of this variation disappeared when researchers controlled for the teachers’ prior evaluation scores, suggesting that principals may be drawing on background knowledge in assigning scores. While this doesn’t exactly fit the narrative of vindictive principals, it does show that who you get as an observer potentially matters.

• Most of the principals were close to the external observers in terms of how strictly they applied the evaluation standards, but there were a few outliers on both ends. Eleven percent of principals regularly rated teachers lower than the observers while 17 percent tended to rate them higher. Another reason to consider more than one observer in a teacher-evaluation system.

Teachers and principals said observations lead to more meaningful discussions of how to improve teaching, but principals said they needed more training on how to help teachers analyze their evaluation.

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