January 19, 2011
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GET TEACHER EVALUATION RIGHT?
Educators in TAP share successful practices—and how to avoid pitfalls—in new report
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Washington, D.C.—As states and districts revamp ineffective teacher evaluation systems, the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) released a report today illustrating ten key recommendations for getting teacher evaluation right. The lessons are drawn from NIET's signature initiative, TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement, and presented in the paper, More than Measurement: The TAP System's Lessons Learned for Designing Better Teacher Evaluation Systems (PDF). Education writer and researcher Craig Jerald worked with Kristan Van Hook at NIET to distill the findings.
"There are good reasons for policymakers and educators to pay close attention to lessons learned from TAP," said Dr. Gary Stark, president and CEO of NIET.
"TAP is the longest-sustained and most successful effort to radically transform teacher evaluation using multiple measures, including student achievement gains, in America today," said Van Hook, NIET's senior vice president of public policy and development. "What's more, TAP's teacher evaluation system has been tried and tested with thousands of teachers in real school settings over a significant period of time."
"While there are many ways to design and implement better approaches to teacher evaluation, there are also many ways to get it wrong," added Jerald, president of Break the Curve Consulting. "With new national momentum and resources behind redesigning the ways teachers are evaluated and supported, it is more important than ever to prevent past mistakes that have resulted in systems that do not accurately measure performance or provide feedback for improvement."
The lessons were announced during a panel discussion in Washington, D.C., today, reinforced by TAP leaders and educators from South Carolina, Louisiana and Texas, which all have created a state infrastructure to support TAP's comprehensive reform. They are:
- Identify specific goals for teacher evaluation that can guide difficult system design decisions, for example, whether the system will not only measure performance, but also support professional growth;
- Use multiple, complementary measures—including student achievement gains—to evaluate teachers;
- Invest sufficiently in "wrap-around" quality control mechanisms, those that take place before, during and after the teacher is evaluated;
- Train evaluators to conduct in-depth post-conferences that can help teachers improve their effectiveness;
- Look for ways to provide teachers with targeted follow-up support;
- Identify deliberate strategies for integrating evaluation and professional development;
- Include teacher leaders as well as administrators among evaluators;
- Use an evidence-based evaluation rubric that balances breadth and depth;
- Attend to the "human side" of evaluation by offering teachers plenty of opportunities to understand how and why the new system works; and
- Provide sufficient technical assistance to implement the system.
"As a principal, I see how valuable it is to be able to accurately measure teacher effectiveness," said Hills, "but I could never handle all those evaluations myself. Having master and mentor teachers work with me to conduct evaluations and take the lead in providing support for teachers to improve has enabled us to make significant improvements in student achievement."
"Being observed by multiple evaluators and receiving ongoing support help teachers become more comfortable with the process," said Collins. "Teachers are well-prepared for their observations and they highly value the professional support we provide. Their support really increases when they see their students' achievement grow."
"TAP's comprehensive scope and use of data to drive teacher effectiveness have made it a key part of our state's efforts to drive overall teacher effectiveness through evaluation, mentoring and professional development," said Dennis Dotterer, executive director of South Carolina TAP at the state department of education. "TAP has produced promising and sustained increases in student achievement in our highest-need schools."
Download the full report, More than Measurement: The TAP System's Lessons Learned for Designing Better Teacher Evaluation Systems, at http://www.tapsystem.org/publications/eval_lessons.pdf.
The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching is an independent public charity committed to ensuring a highly skilled, strongly motivated and competitively compensated teacher for every classroom in America. Its signature initiative is TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement, a comprehensive school reform that provides teachers with powerful opportunities for career advancement, ongoing professional development, a fair accountability system and performance-based compensation. Learn more at http://www.tapsystem.org.
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 . . ."