For all the talk of “value-added” performance measures, most teachers can’t be evaluated by gains in their students’ test scores because they don’t teach tested subjects or no prior test scores are available, write Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, Matthew M. Chingos and Katharine M. Lindquist in Education Next. That makes it important to get classroom observations right.
“Teacher evaluations should include two to three annual classroom observations, with at least one of those observations being conducted by a trained observer from outside the teacher’s school,” they recommend.
In addition, classroom observations “should carry at least as much weight as test-score gains in determining a teacher’s overall evaluation score when both are available.”
That’s true, say the researchers. “Districts should adjust teachers’ classroom-observation scores for the background characteristics of their students, a factor that can have a substantial and unfair influence on a teacher’s evaluation rating.”
Scores can be adjusted for “the percentages of students who are white, black, Hispanic, special education, eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, English language learners, and male,” they write.