January 20, 2012
Gates Findings Substantiate NIETís Building Blocks for Meaningful Teacher Evaluations
NIET Statement on Gates Foundation Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) Study
On January 6, the Gates Foundation released a series of findings from a two-year study of teacher performance and evaluation. We are pleased that the six key recommendations to policymakers and practitioners affirm what we have learned from implementing TAP over the past decade in schools across the country:
- Choose an observation instrument that sets clear expectations.
The TAP Teaching Standards differentiate levels of teaching practice across 19 indicators of practice. This level of detail provides teachers and evaluators with a common language to describe and discuss teaching practice.
- Require observers to demonstrate accuracy before they rate teacher practice.
TAP requires that any evaluator be trained and certified before evaluating a teacher. To become certified, evaluators must observe a full lesson and score it on all 19 indicators. Their scores must come within one point of the overall score of expert national raters. In addition, evaluators must be recertified annually.
- When high stakes decisions are being made, multiple observations are necessary.
TAP calls for four to six observations of full lessons for each teacher every year. Observations must be done by at least three different observers.
- Track system-level reliability by double scoring some teachers with impartial observers.
TAP state directors and their staff, as well as NIET, are available to double score some teachers to check for impartiality. TAP schools also use data management tools to regularly check for consistency and accuracy across evaluators.
- Combine observations with student achievement gains and student feedback.
TAP combines teacher observation with student achievement growth measured by value added both at the classroom level, where available, and schoolwide. Additionally, all TAP teachers receive feedback from an annual responsibility survey, which is completed by fellow teachers.
- Regularly verify that teachers with stronger observation scores also have stronger student achievement gains on average.
TAP allows teachers and administrators to compare their observation scores with student achievement gains on an annual basis to verify the accuracy of evaluations. TAP also provides teachers with many opportunities to compare their observation scores with more informal student growth measures during the course of the year.
Sarah Acorn, Middle School Humanities Teacher, Discovery Canyon Campus, Colorado Springs, Colorado
"Having mentor and master teachers is the most beneficial element of TAP. One huge bonus I've seen as a teacher is automatically having someone I know I can go to when I struggle with getting kids to learn a concept or behavior in the classroom . . ."