Posts Tagged ‘
teacher evaluations ’
I love statistics. As a former teacher of AP Statistics and a PhD candidate, I have had the privilege of using (and abusing) statistical analysis with the best of them. As a practicing classroom science teacher, I have had the privilege of introducing a great number of students to the fine arts of backing up an argument or an experiment with adequate data and statistical analysis. Used as a mathematical tool, statistics can be enlightening, even empowering; as a weapon, they are deadly and, as the old joke goes, half of the statistics ever collected are incorrect and the other two-thirds out-and-out lie! (My profound apologies to those readers who live and die by statistics; you know who you are!)
Of all the statistics I have processed in my role as professional educator and advocate for the education profession, the ones I have appreciated the most are derived from instruments like the MetLife Survey of the American teacher. I highly recommend this data set and subsequent analysis to anyone truly interested in an impartial examination of the state of education here in our nation. Much can be learned and inferred from the two-decade plus examination of data collected from teachers and principals throughout the United States. Indeed, twenty-nine years of non-partisan and non-political data has been collected from a “scientific” sampling of educators and administrations. I particularly enjoy executive summaries; they have a tendency to “cut to the chase” and distill out the highlights. This past year, 2012, is certainly no exception, with the primary issues associated with education and educational leadership being concerns that are totally beyond the control of any teacher or principal in her or his academic setting. (more…)
The Distinguished Educators Council (DEC), made up of 13 Oregon teachers recognized for their knowledge and accomplishments, has released its recommendations to ensure Oregon is a great place to teach. “As we work to create a seamless, high-quality system from birth through post-secondary education we know that teachers at all levels will be the real drivers of change in schools across the state. We should all be doing what we can to ensure that teachers’ voices are helping to drive these policy conversations,” reflected Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. “I am glad to see this group of distinguished teachers offering their best thinking and using their expertise to benefit students inside and outside their own classrooms.”
The report outlines five top-line recommendations, each with specific actions policymakers and school leaders should take to improve teaching and learning.
Read the full report, “Making Oregon a Great Place to Teach: Recommendations from the Distinguished Educators Council.”
Read the news release.
Last week, Dan and I had the pleasure of hosting a break-out session at REAP’s (Reaching and Empowering All People) Academy of Leadership Innovations.
The academy is an opportunity for 8th through 12th graders to practice their leadership skills and engage with community members around important issues facing the greater community.
We spent our session hearing from the students about great teaching. We started by asking the students to describe their best teachers. Over and over again we heard praise for teachers who care about their students, who know their subject matter, and who are willing to individualize their support.
We then had the students get into small groups and discuss questions related to assessing and supporting great teaching and student learning. There were engaged and animated conversations throughout the room, and when we had every group share out at the end of the session, thoughtful ideas were plentiful. Here are some of the highlights: (more…)
T.J. Chandler is the founder of EdZapp, Oregon’s statewide online employment application, and is now the Regional Director of Operations for Netchemia, LLC working with K-12 teacher and administrator evaluations. T.J. was formerly the Director of Business Applications for the New York City Board of Education, and has worked with over one hundred school districts across the country on operational and human capital issues. T.J. holds degrees from Willamette University and Princeton University.
As some celebrate the 10th anniversary of NCLB and others curse it, I ask, “What have we learned from it?” In particular, I am intrigued by certain parallels between evaluating “student achievement” and “teacher performance.”
Like the discussions 10-15 years ago about students “falling behind” and “dropping out,” policy-makers realize that there is a problem with teacher effectiveness and attrition. The tough part for both problems, of course, is specifying–in meaningful and legally-defensible terms–which individuals are having trouble, and even more importantly how to help them improve.
After completing an MAT at Pacific University in 2008, Melissa Cantwell is now certified to teach Middle and High School English. She has been a substitute teacher for two years in Oregon City, Reynolds, David Douglas and Gresham Barlow School Districts and plans to continue substitute teaching until she finds a full time teaching position.
As a relatively new teacher, I’m well aware that the changes that result from education reform efforts going on now will have a huge impact on the future of my teaching career. I want to have a voice in the discussion about the future of public education.
And yet, I am continually amazed by the negativity of so much of what I hear. A 2010 Time article about the movie Waiting for Superman really piqued my interest in education reform. It discussed the overall negative state of public education in America, the negative effects of bad teachers in the classroom, and the desire of those in education reform to recruit the best and the brightest to the education profession.
I wanted to try and figure out what a “bad teacher” looks like in the classroom. How could I spot a bad teacher, and more importantly, how could I make sure that I didn’t become one? So I started reading more about education reform and realized the characteristics of “bad teachers” are never explicitly defined.
Why can’t we fix the teacher evaluation system? Maybe our newest tool, the 2010 Model Core Teaching Standards from the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Committee (InTASC) will be the fix. These standards, adopted as the evaluation tool for graduates of Oregon Colleges of Education and the proposed basis for teacher evaluation in all Oregon school districts, may help. The process, though, can have both positive and negative consequences.
First, the positive. A set of “professional practice standards, setting one standard for performance that will look differently at different developmental stages of the teacher’s career” (Council of Chief State Officers, Model Core Teaching Standards, p.1) can develop a common language for K-12 educators and teacher preparation programs. Such a common language would be helpful to the many mentor teachers who so carefully guide our novice teachers through their first student teaching experiences. Right now we in the Colleges of Education have forms that reflect TSPC (Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, the licensing agency) requirements with descriptors that often do not parallel those used in the daily practice of classrooms. How much better it would be to have the new teacher, the veteran teacher, and the university supervisor speaking the same language.
The standards for judgment also could become clearer if those standards reflected “stages of development.” Instead of the student teacher equating the evaluation scale with a grade (“I want a 6 because that means an A”), the scale could reflect teachers’ growth process as an educator. Too many people assume that, because both the new and the veteran teacher have job descriptions that are exactly alike, all teachers at initial licensure will perform exactly like a more veteran teacher. While more years of service do not guarantee greater proficiency, allowing for well-described and well-understood standards of development should open doors to better evaluation and enhanced professional development. Just as state standards for curriculum have allowed for a more common understanding among teachers of what an average third grader or tenth grader should know, the application of these standards can allow better conversation about teachers’ work.
Now, the negative.
Many of the current discussions around public school improvement have focused on teachers: How to evaluate them, and how to help them improve.
I had the opportunity to meet recently with the principal of my son’s school and ask her a few questions about how teacher evaluations are handled in a private school. My interview was with Merrill Hendin, head of Portland Jewish Academy.
Heather Penner: What is your general framework for evaluating teachers?
Merrill Hendin: It’s an evolving process, based on Charlotte Danielson’s “Enhancing Professional Practice”.
HP: How often are teachers evaluated?
MH: There are two official classroom visits per year, and two sit-down meetings per year in which we discuss a teacher’s professional goals for him- or herself for that year. But in reality, evaluations are much more frequent and fluid than that, as supervisors drop in and observe the classrooms frequently. It is important to find a balance between being organic and yet still being thoughtful and systematic.
The first three years that a teacher is with PJA, she is on the “observation track” and teaching performance is watched more closely. Beyond the third year, supervision is more focused on professional growth—helping teachers with their own professional development goals for the year.
At the end of the year, both the teacher and the supervisor each writes a narrative evaluation of the teacher’s strengths and challenges, looking forward to goals for the next year.
HP: Who does the evaluations?
MH: The teachers are divided fairly evenly into three groups, based on subject matter. At PJA, these groups are General Studies, Jewish & Hebrew Studies, and Specialists (music, art, dance, etc.) Each of these areas has a supervisor, although the other supervisors frequently drop in on other classrooms as well. There is a lot of overlap and cross-communication and collaboration between the supervisors.
UPDATED 5/4/11 (Based on feedback from a local researcher, we’ve updated this post)
There have been a number of different studies that explored the impact of educators on student achievement. Now many researchers have turned to the question of measuring effective teaching. How do you know it when you see it? What can we learn from highly effective educators?
A recent study by Tom Kane, Eric Taylor, John Tyler, and Amy Wooten set out to answer the question: Is there a correlation between teacher gain in classroom observation scores and gains in student achievement?
Using data from Cincinnati’s teacher evaluation system from 2000 through the end of the 2009 school year, the researchers found, in short, the answer is yes.
The Cincinnati evaluation system entails four separate classroom observations per school year during a teacher’s evaluation cycle. Teachers are graded on 1-to-4 scale on a number of different standards. With teachers that achieved an improved rank at least one point up on the scale, researchers also saw some gains in the reading and math achievement of their students.
The research seems to indicate, then, that there is a correlation between improved teacher evaluation scores and improved learning. The conclusion suggests that classroom observations and evaluations may actually be a good measure of teaching as it relates to student achievement.