3 Steps to Achieving Better Teacher Evaluations

As federal efforts for standardizing teacher evaluations come to an end following the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, states have more flexibility in the choice of their own systems for evaluations.

For a recent report, “Teacher Evaluations and Support Systems: A Roadmap for Improvement,” executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Education and Society Program, Ross Weiner, and his colleagues spoke with state leaders who all agreed on the following three steps to achieving better teacher evaluations.

1. Ensure that evaluators are trained and certified to focus on professional growth, not just ratings. When teachers are mainly evaluated by classroom observers, it is imperative that the observers are not only able to provide systematic ratings, but also encourage teachers in honing their skills. Evaluators must be prepared and licensed to offer constructive feedback based on evidence. They also need the ability to create professional learning opportunities to advance teachers’ growth.

2. Allow districts some flexibility in accounting for student learning. There is quite a bit of dispute regarding teachers’ evaluations and how they coincide with the measurement of student learning. This resulted in most states introducing new tests, raising suspicions about equality and timing.

It also caused some states to decrease or completely stop including student growth measures in teacher evaluations. However, to create a precise evaluation, multiple data needs to be recorded, leaving states in a position where this must be faced for continuous improvement.

3. Test and ensure the integrity of the evaluation system. A strict quality assurance process must be in place to ensure an improved evaluation system. There are many ways to do this. One is to send evaluators from schools with high scores to observe and assist schools with lower scores.

Another option is to include attendance information and results to employee surveys in evaluation discoveries. Some find the best option to be asking the teachers for feedback regarding their evaluations and evaluation systems, then taking steps to improve on the evaluation process with the teachers’ concerns taken into consideration.

There isn’t one conclusion set in stone, and there won’t be one made overnight. However, these three strategies are some that many state leaders do agree upon and could be the building blocks for an improved system in the near future.