Teacher Effectiveness Study Offers Critical Lessons
Teachers exemplifying certain knowledge and skills outlined in various teaching frameworks, including the one used in Delaware, help students achieve greater academic gains according to the second-year study of the Bill & Melinda Gates’ Foundation Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project. The project, which was launched in 2009, seeks to determine the common threads among effective educators and utilize that information to build a teacher-effectiveness measure based on those results.
The study’s results, which cover the second year (first year here) of the project, posit critical findings we must consider as we iron out the details of our DPAS II teacher evaluation system. These include:
- Multiple observations, from multiple raters, must be utilized to produce reliability – which is not required under current code;
- Adding student perceptions, along with the current observation results and student learning gains in component five, will increase predictive power and reliability; and
- Teachers with high evaluation and value-added scores also did better in other measures, including students’ demonstration of higher-order thinking and overall satisfaction – which we assess on a very limited basis through DCAS.
Looking ahead, there are many actions we could take to beef up our evaluations. First, and arguably most importantly, we must define college and career readiness, with a focus on deeper, and more rich, learning experiences our students should have on a day to day basis to get them there. Next, we must accurately measure student progress towards that goal and make mid-course adjustments along the way. This will include ensuring that the Common Core assessments gauge the higher-order thinking skills necessary for success in college and careers. And last, we need to not shy away from comparing ourselves to our international peers since our students’ competition is no longer just next door in Maryland, but rather half-way across the world in Shanghai. This could entail having individual schools measure their performance on the PISA test (imagine that, getting a report on how your student compares to students from China!).
The focus now seems to center on how to evaluate teachers in various subjects around student learning; however, we must think bigger and bolder around how evaluations can be utilized to develop and support teachers and their students. And while the Gates Foundation’s work differs from Delaware’s (no high-stakes decisions based on results, statewide versus single district implementation, etc.), we must take note of the lessons learned from these educators and come together as stakeholders to incorporate these lessons learned into our current practice.