The intrinsic difficulty in fairly evaluating a teacher's effectiveness is a popular argument against basing pay and employment on a principal's performance evaluation. Thus the ubiquitous use of tenure, degrees, and seniority in determining compensation and a job-for-life in public education. A recent study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, however, perhaps offers an interesting alternative, taking this onerous and controversial burden off the administrator's desk.
Let the students do it.
The study shows:
- The average student knows effective teaching when he or she experiences it.
- In every grade and every subject, a teacher's past success in raising student achievement on state tests is one of the strongest predictors of his or her ability to do so again.
- The teachers with the highest value-added scores on state tests, which show improvement by individual students during the time they were in their classroom, are also the teachers who do the best job helping their students understand math concepts or demonstrate reading comprehension through writing.
- Valid feedback does not need to come from test scores alone. Other data can give teachers the information they need to improve, including student opinions of how organized and effective a teacher is.
One notable early finding [...] is that teachers who incessantly drill their students to prepare for standardized tests tend to have lower value-added learning gains than those who simply work their way methodically through the key concepts of literacy and mathematics.
Teachers whose students agreed with the statement, “We spend a lot of time in this class practicing for the state test,” tended to make smaller gains on those exams than other teachers.
“Teaching to the test makes your students do worse on the tests,” Ms. Phillips said. “It turns out all that ‘drill and kill’ isn’t helpful.”
Value-added-test-score-based evaluation is a hot (potato) topic right now, with many railing against it, saying it is too narrow of a performance measure. Is it possible though, seeing performance through the eyes of the consumer ("What Works in the Classroom? Ask the Students"), that test scores may actually have a close correlation to what makes a good teacher?
Measures of Effective Teaching Project:http://www.metproject.org/