Study: Teacher evaluation lifts scores

Evaluation can improve mid-career teachers’ effectiveness in math, but not reading, according to a study of Cincinnati’s Teacher Evaluation System (TES), reports Education Next.

 . .  . teachers are more effective at raising student achievement during the school year when they are being evaluated than they were previously, and even more effective in the years after evaluation. A student instructed by a teacher after that teacher has been through the Cincinnati evaluation will score about 11 percent of a standard deviation (4.5 percentile points for a median student) higher in math than a similar student taught by the same teacher before the teacher was evaluated.

Well-designed performance evaluation “can be an effective form of teacher professional development,” conclude researchers Eric S. Taylor and John H. Tyler.

During the yearlong TES process, teachers are observed in the classroom four times, once by the principal or another administrator and three times by a “high-performing, experienced teacher who previously taught in a different school.”

The evaluation measures classroom management, instruction, content knowledge, and planning, among other topics.

After each classroom observation, peer evaluators and administrators provide written feedback to the teacher and meet with the teacher at least once to discuss the results. At the end of the evaluation school year, a final summative score in each of four domains of practice is calculated and presented to the evaluated teacher.

. . . For beginning teachers (those evaluated in their first and fourth years), a poor evaluation could result in nonrenewal of their contract, while a successful evaluation is required before receiving tenure. For tenured teachers, evaluation scores determine eligibility for some promotions or additional tenure protection, or, in the case of very low scores, placement in a peer assistance program with a small risk of termination.

Teachers who were the least effective in raising student scores before the evaluation and those who earned relatively low TES scores showed the greatest improvement. Despite the high cost — $7,500 per teacher — TES is a cost-effective way to improve student performance, the study found.

Also on Ed Next, Thomas Kane, who led the Gates Foundation’s project on measuring teaching, writes on Capturing the Dimensions of Effective Teaching.

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