Is it Possible to Build a Better Teacher Evaluation System?

In the world of sports, determining your top players is a pretty clear-cut process for managers. In basketball, a coach just needs to take a look at his players’ shooting percentages, rebounds and blocks. Gymnastics, baseball, football … same thing. The scores and stats are there to determine how much conditioning, training and practice is required to improve a player’s performance.

When it comes to teachers, identifying top performers is a murky process, as is evident with the ongoing national debate on how to evaluate teachers. The Texas Commissioner of Education is among those recently criticized for teacher evaluations. The Association of Texas Professional Educators says the rules for Texas Teacher Evaluation violate state laws.

Meanwhile, New York’s proposed changes in teacher evaluations due to take place in 2019 also have lawmakers on edge due to current state laws.

Here are a few popular opinions regarding newer teacher evaluations, according to the Center for Public Education:

Many employee evaluation systems are outdated and don’t accurately reflect teachers’ performance. All but a few teachers are receiving “Satisfactory” ratings with current teacher evaluation systems. The problem is due to a deficiency in the ability to analyze the diversity in teachers’ performance.

Student learning can be advanced by balancing teacher performance. Creating and executing a teacher evaluation system that determines where and how strong teaching is occurring and intervenes where improvement is needed, requires more funding and thought, but could generate powerful benefits to students.

The benefits of a value-added system will improve on the current system in place. Teacher evaluations should include the amount of influence teachers have on their students’ learning. This model works by designating how much a student’s achievements are influenced by their teacher. This will lead to less teachers being misidentified as “Satisfactory.”

Value-added models can be better. Developing the data from state evaluations and aligning that information with what is being taught is one way to make these models better. If you have 3 years of data, rather than just 1 year, lowers the chances of misidentifying a teacher’s performance by 10 percent.

It’s going to take various methods to improve teacher evaluations. Traditional methods such as observing classrooms, in addition to value-added data, will give us a better way of assessing a teacher’s past and future effectiveness.