Classroom observations — the centerpiece of most teacher rating systems — are a waste of time and money, writes Mark Dynarski on Brookings’ blog.
An administrator checks off whether the teacher is demonstrating curriculum knowledge, asking open-ended questions that require students to “think at a higher level in formulating answers,” he writes. “Do students appear engaged?”
The observer can see whether teachers are teaching., but not whether students are learning, writes Dynarski. “Teacher observation scores and student test scores show little correlation.” There’s also no link with with non-cognitive outcomes such as “grit” or persistence.
Observations take administrators’ time, an estimated 31 million hours a year. That costs “$1.4 billion a year to . . . find that nearly all teachers are effective and to generate teacher feedback that does not improve student learning,” Dynarski concludes.