Teacher Evaluation

Overview

Teacher Evaluation

In recent years, the evaluation of classroom teachers has become an increasingly high profile and controversial issue, especially as many states began to require those judgments to be based — at least in part — on student test scores.

But the landscape is shifting once again, spurred on by changes in federal law. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which goes into effect with the 2017-18 school year, ushers in a new era of greater state flexibility and decreasing federal oversight of teacher evaluations.

In recent years, the evaluation of classroom teachers has become an increasingly high profile and controversial issue, especially as many states began to require those judgments to be based — at least in part — on student test scores.

But the landscape is shifting once again, spurred on by changes in federal law. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which goes into effect with the 2017-18 school year, ushers in a new era of greater state flexibility and decreasing federal oversight of teacher evaluations.

ESSA made the teacher evaluation landscape “messy and complicated,” Kimberly Kappler Hewitt, an assistant professor of educational leadership at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, who researches teacher evaluation policies, told Education Week.

“No two states are doing the same thing right now,” she said in the article.

Applying the Brakes

Prior to ESSA’s adoption in 2015, more than 44 states had spent sizable resources — funding and staff time, not to mention significant political capital — to create tougher teacher evaluations with an increased focus on student achievement results.

Now, many states and districts appear to be putting the brakes on any requirement to use student test results in their evaluations of teachers.  

Teacher evaluations in the U.S. typically are based on a variety of factors, including classroom observations, student surveys, lesson plan reviews and teacher self-assessments. The systems are usually governed by state laws, but are prepared and implemented at the local level, leading to wide variation in their requirements. Some are linked to tenure and promotion decisions, while many more are used to provide feedback to teachers and influence day-to-day lesson plans.

With the move away from test-based evaluations, some states are recasting their evaluation systems to focus on improving the quality of their teacher workforce. Brown University researchers John Tyler and John Papay have partnered with the Tennessee Department of Education to match top teachers in the state’s new evaluation system with colleagues who struggle.

Similar programs are already in place in Hillsborough County, Fla., and New Haven, Conn. In a 2015 review, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) found that 30 states and the District of Columbia require teachers’ evaluations to inform their professional development.

That is a far less expansive vision than the one the Obama administration championed. In his 2012 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama said that that schools needed flexibility to implement test-based evaluations that “reward the best” teachers and “replace teachers who aren’t helping kids learn.”

ESSA Constrains Federal Role

But ESSA’s signing brought federal support for that experiment more or less to a close. The law terminated financial incentives for states to set up teacher evaluation systems based significantly on student test scores. And it effectively banned the U.S. secretary of education from mandating future teacher performance measures.

The new federal law also jeopardizes the push for a controversial approach to teacher evaluations, a statistical technique known as “value-added” modeling. Value-added models compare test scores students earn in any given year to the scores they were predicted to attain based on prior tests and a host of other variables; if students exceed their predicted scores, the difference is seen as the teacher’s “added value.”

For now, the influential Council of Chief State School Officers is holding firm. In its “Principles for Teacher Support and Evaluation systems,” released in March 2016, CCSSO promoted the inclusion of “evidence of student learning” in teacher evaluations. A handful of states are staying the course, including Indiana and Kentucky.

But many states and districts are delaying the use of student testing in their evaluations of teachers, if not barring the practice outright.

In a dramatic reversal, just weeks after ESSA’s adoption, New York suspended until 2019 the use of student test scores on statewide tests in teacher evaluations. This action came less than a year after Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved a measure that would have weighted test scores up to 50 percent in evaluations. In the meantime, teachers in New York will receive a “growth” score based on tests, but it will have no bearing on employment.

The national focus on test scores — in addition to widespread frustrations about overtesting — helped spark a parental “opt out” movement and more than a dozen lawsuits. For most states, the complex and costly federal demands of creating student growth measures moved faster than their technical capacity.

‘Scientific and Technical Limitations’

And questions remain about whether value-added policies work.

In 2015, the American Educational Research Association released a statement laying out  its view of the “scientific and technical limitations” of value-added models. It cautioned against giving them a high-stakes weight in teacher evaluations.

By early 2017, it was still too early to say whether the Obama-era push for tougher teacher evaluations had reaped benefits. It appears that the new rating systems did not change outcomes for teachers in many states.

In Indiana, for example, just .5 percent of educators were labelled “ineffective” in the second year under the new system — the same percentage that existed prior to the changes. New Jersey saw similar results. In its first year under the new evaluation system, 97 percent of teachers were rated effective or better.

But a study by Bellwether Education Partners offered some evidence that the Obama administration measures had pushed many states to have “meaningful conversations about instructional practice that were not possible with old, checklist-style evaluations.” It also pointed to some reformed district teacher evaluation systems that had helped improve overall teacher quality.

A recent study of the Chicago teacher evaluation system found that it influenced low-performing teachers to leave the profession, while retaining effective ones. A similar study of the District of Columbic school system found that its teacher evaluation system had influenced the voluntary exit of low-performing teachers and improved the performance of high-performing ones.

New Risks?

The Bellwether study warned of “new risks for teacher evaluation policies” if states and districts seized upon new flexibility to jettison student growth measures outright. But it noted that ESSA also freed states and districts to innovate, a potentially positive development if educators found meaningful ways to share promising practices.

“The next iteration in teacher evaluation policies will have much greater variation across states and among districts within states,” according to the paper. “This variation creates opportunities for learning — identifying both what works and what doesn’t among different approaches — but only if there are structures and capacity in place to do so.”

Published May 2017

Member Stories

November 30 – December 7
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

Emily Hanford and Alex Baumhardt explore the higher education divide for rural students in the first part of a series from The Atlantic and APM Reports. 

 

Parents and community leaders are faced with tough choices in Denver’s child care deserts, as Ann Schimke and Yesenia Robles report for Chalkbeat Colorado. 

 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

The boys (and girls) are back in town. For class, that is.

See how forced that lede was? Back-to-school reporting can take on a similar tinge of predictability, with journalists wondering how an occasion as locked in as the changing of the seasons can be written about with the freshness of spring.

Recently some of the beat’s heavy hitters dished with EWA’s Emily Richmond about ways newsrooms can take advantage of the first week of school to tell important stories and cover overlooked issues.

Webinar

More Than Scores: How to Cover Teacher Evaluation

More Than Scores: How to Cover Teacher Evaluation

Over the past decade, many states and school districts have overhauled the way they evaluate teachers. Some rely primarily on test scores; others add classroom observations. Some even bring student surveys into the mix. Meanwhile, new federal leeway may spark a fresh round of changes around the country.

What are some practical ways for journalists to write about the evaluation systems in the school districts they cover? What questions should they ask about design, implementation, training, and teacher attitudes toward the evaluations?

Report

Examining the Validity of Ratings from a Classroom Observation Instrument for Use in a District’s Teacher Evaluation System
WestEd

This validation study examined principals’ evaluation ratings of teachers made on an instrument adapted from the Danielson Framework for Teaching and used in the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada in 2012/13. Principals used a four-point rating scale to rate teachers on 22 teaching components. The teaching components were expected to measure four different dimensions of teaching.

EWA Radio

Raising the Bar for Teacher Certification 
EWA Radio: Episode 71

(Flickr/Don Voaklander)

How fair are controversial new tests being used by some states to certify teachers? Who are the prospective classroom educators struggling the most with the often costly, time-consuming process? And how might this impact efforts to diversify nation’s predominantly white, female, teacher workforce?

Writer Peggy Barmore of The Hechinger Report discusses these issues with EWA public editor Emily Richmond.

Report

Listen to Us: Teacher Views and Voices

In the winter of 2015, the Center on Education Policy surveyed a nationally representative sample of public school teachers to learn their views on the teaching profession, state standards and assessments, testing, and teacher evaluations. 

The report, Listen to Us: Teacher Views and Voices, summarizes these survey findings, including responses indicating that public school teachers are concerned and frustrated with shifting policies, over emphasis on student testing, and their lack of voice in decision-making. 

Report

State Capacity to Support School Turnaround
Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

More than 80 percent of states made turning around low-performing schools a high priority, but at least 50 percent found it very difficult to turn around low-performing schools. 38 states (76 percent) reported significant gaps in expertise for supporting school turnaround in 2012, and that number increased to 40 (80 percent) in 2013.

Seminar

69th EWA National Seminar

The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.

Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.

Boston, Massachusetts
Report

Teacher Preparation Programs: Education Should Ensure States Identify Low-Performing Programs and Improve Information Sharing
United States Government Accountability Office

Among other things, GAO recommends that the Department of Education monitor states to ensure their compliance with requirements to assess whether any teacher preparation programs are low-performing and develop mechanisms to share information about TPP quality within the agency and with states.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Beyond NCLB: New Era in Federal Education Policy?

Screenshot of a tweet by @KristenRencher

Fifty years ago, the federal government enacted the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty. The newest version of the ESEA, the No Child Left Behind Act, became law 13 years ago and has stayed in place ever since. On Thursday, a new version of the federal government’s most far-reaching K-12 education law moved closer to adoption. The U.S. Senate passed the Every Child Achieves Act, one week after the U.S. House of Representatives passed its own version, the Student Success Act.

Multimedia

Falloff in Aspiring Teachers: Where and Why?
2015 EWA National Seminar

Falloff in Aspiring Teachers: Where and Why?

A data analysis by Education Week showed a decline in applicants to education schools in key states and Ed Week’s Stephen Sawchuk walks participants through it. ACT’s Steve Kappler unveils a disturbing new report on a dropoff in high school graduates aspiring to teach. Other speakers review the implications of their findings and sources.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Talking To Teachers: Story Ideas For Reporters

For education reporters looking for story ideas, talking to teachers is a smart place to start. That was the key takeaway from the “Performance and Perceptions: Taking the Pulse of the Profession” session at EWA’s recent seminar on the teaching profession, held last month in Detroit.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What It Takes to Build Great Teachers

Author Elizabeth Green speaks to EWA members in Detroit on Oct. 21, 2014. (Emily Richmond/EWA)

If 49 multiplied by 5 is 245, why would a student think the answer is 405? And who is more likely to know this – a mathematician or an elementary math teacher?

Elizabeth Green, the author of “Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (And How to Teach It to Everyone), posed this question to a roomful of education reporters at EWA’s October seminar in Detroit.  

Blog: The Educated Reporter

‘The Teacher Wars’: Everything Old Is New Again

Dana Goldstein speaks with Greg Toppo in Detroit on Oct. 20, 2014. (Michael Marriott/EWA)

Education might seem more incendiary and political than ever before, but author Dana Goldstein argues that today’s biggest policy fights aren’t exactly new battles.

“We’ve been fighting about teachers for 175 years,” said Goldstein at EWA’s October seminar on teaching, held in Detroit. At the event, Goldstein discussed her new book, The Teacher Wars, published in September.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Teaching Profession: What Reporters Need to Know

Teacher Carmen Perry, left, talks with EWA members at the International Academy for Young Women, a single-gender public school, on Oct. 20, 2014. (Emily Richmond/EWA)

The stakes have arguably never been higher for public school teachers, who are facing not only an increasingly challenging student population but also new demands for accountability and performance. What lies ahead for the nation’s largest profession, with the rollout of new academic standards and new assessments to gauge how effectively students are being taught?

Multimedia

Teacher Induction and Mentoring: Liam Goldrick, New Teacher Center
EWA Seminar on Teaching

Teacher Induction and Mentoring: Liam Goldrick, New Teacher Center

For new teachers, the first few years on the job can present a steep learning curve. And the students who need the most experienced teachers often don’t get them. How are schools, districts and states ramping up the support provided to new teachers? What are the hallmarks of a high-quality induction program? And what does the research show on the effects of coaching and mentoring?

Panelist:

Multimedia

Teacher Induction and Mentoring: Magdalene Lampert, Boston Residency Project
EWA Seminar on Teaching

Teacher Induction and Mentoring: Magdalene Lampert, Boston Residency Project

For new teachers, the first few years on the job can present a steep learning curve. And the students who need the most experienced teachers often don’t get them. How are schools, districts and states ramping up the support provided to new teachers? What are the hallmarks of a high-quality induction program? And what does the research show on the effects of coaching and mentoring?

Panelist:

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Five Questions For… NCEE’s Marc Tucker
On School Accountability, Teachers, and the Common Core

Marc Tucker

Marc Tucker, president and chief executive of the National Center on Education and the Economy, recently unveiled a proposed accountability plan for public schools that includes significantly reducing the number of tests students take, and building extensive professional development time for teachers into every school day. He spoke with EWA.

Report

Teacher Attrition and Mobility: Results from the 2012-13 Teacher Follow-up Survey
NCES

This First Look report provides some selected findings from the 2012-13 Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS) along with data tables and methodological information. The TFS is a follow-up of a sample of the elementary and secondary school teachers who participated in the previous year’s Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). The TFS sample includes teachers who leave teaching in the year after the SASS data collection and those who continue to teach either in the same school as last year or in a different school.

Report

Principals Have Lots of Teacher Effectiveness Data, But Don’t Use Them

Time and timing are two other key barriers to principal data use, noted Jason A. Grissom, assistant professor of public policy and education and a collaborator on the study. “Principals face so many demands on their time already, so it can be difficult to find the time to access and analyze data, particularly when those data are not always available to principals at the time talent management decisions need to be made,” he said.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

For Waiver States, More Time for Teacher Evaluations

States receiving waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act are getting more time to grapple with how to conduct teacher evaluations using student test scores, particularly the new Common Core State Standards-based assessments.

According to Education Week, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the postponement at an event on Thursday in Washington, D.C., which earlier this summer announced its plan to delay its new teacher evaluations.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Teacher Evaluations: Education Reporting That Measures Up

Patrick O'Donnell (left), Lisa Gartner and Mackenzie Ryan at speak at the 67th National Seminar.

How teachers are evaluated is one of the most rapid changes in education policy, said Mackenzie Ryan, a Florida Today education reporter who moderated a panel on the topic at EWA’s National Seminar in Nashville.

With that as the backdrop, Lisa Gartner, a Tampa Bay Times reporter, and Patrick O’Donnell from the Cleveland Plain Dealer shared how they covered the topic in their home states.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Poll: Support for Common Core Slipping Among California Voters

Credit: flickr/rocksee

new poll from PACE/USC Rossier School of Education suggests California voters are losing enthusiasm for the Common Core State Standards.

PACE/Rossier pollsters spoke with more than 1,000 Californians to gauge their views on a number of key issues, including the recent Vergara vs. California teacher tenure ruling, the new Common Core standards, and the job performance of state and national policymakers. Among the highlights:

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Report: Nation’s Teacher Prep Programs Falling Short

If you’re wondering just how contentious a new set of rankings for the nation’s teacher preparation programs really are, consider this: the advocacy group that compiled them had to offer cash rewards to students for basic information such as syllabi when colleges and universities declined to provided them.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Judging Principals: Inside the Evaluation Debate

How should we judge the performance of Baton Rouge education reporter Charles Lussier?

That was the question posed by Vanderbilt University education professor Joseph Murphy, who suspected that by the second afternoon of EWA’s National Seminar his audience was ready for a fun exercise. Murphy talked about the difference between Lussier’s inputs (such as his education and technical skills), the work he does and his results (readership and response to his articles).

“What if we measure him on whether the paper increases circulation? Do you buy that?” Murphy asked.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Live From Nashville: EWA’s 67th National Seminar

I’ve often made the case that there’s no reporting beat where the reporters are more collegial – or more committed to their work – than education. EWA’s 67th National Seminar, hosted by Vanderbilt University, helped to prove that point.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Weingarten Talks Teachers, Politics and Common Core

Lyndsey Layton (right) of The Washington Post interviews Randi Weingarten at the 67th National Seminar.

When Randi Weingarten gets depressed about the state of public education, she told attendees of EWA’s 67th National Seminar, she calls up memories of her students at the “We the People” competition in upstate New York a couple of decades ago.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Tennessee’s Haslam Aims for Mantle of Education Governor

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam addresses attendees at the 67th National Seminar.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam laughingly admitted during a speech at the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar this week that his state hasn’t always been known as a “hotbed of education reform”—or frankly, a place known for its academic achievement.

Moreover, he wasn’t the state CEO who ushered in a series of dramatic education policy changes that has put the state on the national school reform map. Still, he said at the May 19 appearance in Nashville, he’s been the guy “standing in the doorway making sure we don’t retreat.”

Report

Performance Screens for School Improvement: The Case of Teacher Tenure Reform in New York City

Tenure reforms in NYC led to a substantial drop in the percent of eligible teachers approved for tenure – from 94 percent during academic years 2007-08 and 2008-09, the two years prior to the introduction of the policy, to 89 percent in the first year of the policy (2009-10) and to an average of 56 percent during the three subsequent years.
The vast majority of eligible teachers who were not approved for tenure had their probationary period extended. The proportion of teachers denied tenure changed only slightly, from two to three percent, following reform.

Report

Evaluating Teachers With Classroom Observations
Lessons Learned in Four Districts

As the majority of states continue to design and implement new evaluation systems, the time is right to ask how existing teacher evaluation systems are performing and in what practical ways they might be improved.

This Brookings Institution report helps to answer those questions by examining the actual design and performance of new teacher evaluation systems in four urban school districts that are at the forefront of the effort to meaningfully evaluate teachers. 

Report

Instructional Alignment as a Measure of Teaching Quality
Morgan S. Polikoff and Andrew Porter

Recent years have seen the convergence of two major policy streams in U.S. K–12 education: standards/accountability and teacher quality reforms. Work in these areas has led to the creation of multiple measures of teacher quality, including measures of their instructional alignment to standards/assessments, observational and student survey measures of pedagogical quality, and measures of teachers’ contributions to student test scores.

Report

Genuine Progress, Greater Challenges
A Decade Of Teacher Effectiveness Reforms

This report by Bellwether Education Partners examines how the teacher quality movement took hold and propelled policy changes in dozens of states. Here are excerpts from its executive summary:

The perception of teachers as widgets began to change in the late 1990s and early aughts as new organizations launched and policymakers and philanthropists began to concentrate on teacher effectiveness. Under the Obama administration, the pace of change quickened. …

Post

American Statistical Association Statement on Value-Added Models
Use of VAM for Educational Assessment

Many states and school districts have adopted Value-Added Models (VAMs) as part of educational accountability systems. The goal of these models, which are also referred to as Value-Added Assessment (VAA) Models, is to estimate
effects of individual teachers or schools on student achievement while accounting for differences in student background. VAMs are increasingly promoted or mandated as a component in high-stakes decisions such as determining
compensation, evaluating and ranking teachers, hiring or dismissing teachers, awarding tenure, and closing schools.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

New Survey: Teachers Say Their Voices Aren’t Being Heard

When it comes to having their voices heard, teachers overwhelmingly say they aren’t being listened to on matters of education policy at the state or national level.

At the school level, however, 69 percent of teachers said their opinions carried weight, according to the third edition of the “Primary Sources”  survey by Scholastic and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was published Tuesday.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Compelling Principal Stories: It Can Be Done

One of the education system’s most powerful influences on student learning is often ignored — the school principal. Journalists frequently find it challenging to capture the complexities of the job. But the collection of coverage we’ve assembled underscores that this facet of the education beat is replete with interesting angles.

Report

Effective Instructional Time Use for School Leaders: Longitudinal Evidence from Observations of Principals

We find that principals’ time spent broadly on instructional functions does not predict student achievement growth. Aggregating across leadership behaviors, however, masks that some specific instructional investments predict year-to-year gains. In particular, time spent on teacher coaching, evaluation, and developing the school’s educational program predict positive achievement gains. In contrast, time spent on informal classroom walkthroughs negatively predicts student growth, particularly in high schools.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Five Questions Education Reporters Should Ask About Teacher Evaluations


EWA headed to the University of Chicago last month with about 50 reporters from across the country for some frank talk about teacher evaluations. You can catch up with podcasts of some of the sessions here.

We also spent some time brainstorming story ideas, and I wanted to share a few of them – not all of them – with you. (Hey, there has to be some benefits to in-person attendance, right?)

Story Lab

Story Lab: Teacher Evaluation

Few areas of education policy are moving more quickly than teacher evaluations. In 2009, annual evaluations of teachers were mandatory in just 15 states. Today, that number stands at 25. Additionally, in order to qualify for federal Race to the Top competitive grants and No Child Left Behind waivers, states had to pledge to use student assessment data as a factor in measuring a teacher’s performance. At the same time, few issues are fraught with more politics—and potential controversy—than teacher evaluations.

Seminar

Recap: Assessing the Future of Teacher Evaluations

More than 50 reporters joined EWA for our seminar “More Than Scores: Assessing the Future of Teacher Evaluations,” held Oct. 10th and 11th at the University of Chicago. As always, we look forward to the coverage inspired by the event. So far, we know about the following stories:

EWA Radio

Confessions of a Bad Teacher

John Owens, who worked in the media world, decided he wanted to contribute to society by becoming a teacher. He lasted only a few months and wrote an article called “Confessions of a Bad Teacher.” The column hit a nerve and the article became a book. Owens will describe his experiences as a teacher with evaluations, classroom observations and a principal who gamed the system. Author John Owens interviewed by Greg Toppo of USA Today. Recorded Oct. 11, 2013 at More Than Scores: Assessing the Future of Teacher Evaluations.

EWA Radio

The Chicago Perspective: A New Model for Teacher Evaluations in the Windy City

How are teacher evaluations impacting teaching and learning in the nation’s fifth-largest school district? How might Chicago’s experience be a teachable moment for educators and policymakers in other communities? Panelists: Linda Lenz, Catalyst Chicago (moderator); Carol Caref, Chicago Teachers Union; Paulette Poncelet, Chicago Public Schools; Sue Sporte, University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. Recorded Oct. 11, 2013 at More Than Scores: Assessing the Future of Teacher Evaluations.

EWA Radio

The Early Education Connection: Measuring the Youngest Learners

Robert Pianta describes his extensive research into what makes a good early childhood education teacher and how the University of Virginia developed an instrument to measure early childhood teachers. Laura Bornfreund discusses the different approaches being used by districts to measure student growth for the purpose of evaluating early childhood education (Pre-K-grade 3) teachers as well as the potential hurdles to widespread, reliable implementation. Panelists: Cornelia Grumman (moderator); Laura Bornfreund, New America Foundation; Bob Pianta, University of Virginia. Recorded Oct.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

More Than Scores: Assessing the Future of Teacher Evaluations

I’m at the University of Chicago for the next few days for our EWA seminar for journalists looking at the current — and future — landscape for teacher evaluations. We’ll be posting content from the sessions, but in the meantime you can get up to speed with a handy backgrounder over on EdMedia Commons. You can also check out some recent posts I’ve written on this and related topics:

EWA Radio

Teacher Evaluations and Equity: A National Overview

How are states responding to the push for greater accountability and transparency in how teacher job performance is measured? How are union leaders helping members adjust to the new expectations? Can evaluations be used as a lever to more equitably distribute teacher talent, and ensure the neediest students get the most effective instruction? Speakers include Stephanie Banchero, Wall St. Journal (moderator); Sandi Jacobs, National Council on Teacher Quality; Sarah Lenhoff, director of policy and research, Education Trust – Midwest; and Dennis Van Roekel, National Education Association.

EWA Radio

More than Scores: Framing Remarks from Tim Knowles

To open EWA’s 2013 workshop on teacher evaluations, Tim Knowles of the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute talks about how the changing landscape of teacher evaluations is influencing broader conversations about school improvement and student achievement. Recorded Oct. 10, 2013 at EWA’s education reporting workshop More Than Scores: Assessing the Future of Teacher Evaluations.

EWA Radio

Understanding and Using Value-Added Data

What questions should reporters be asking when using evaluation-related data in stories? What is incumbent for reporters to learn about the use of student growth, and what is incumbent for officials to provide when they report the numbers? How can reporters convey the nuance without dulling their prose? Sabrina Laine, AIR, interviewed by Stephen Sawchuk, Education Week Recorded Oct. 10, 2013 at EWA’s education reporting workshop More Than Scores: Assessing the Future of Teacher Evaluations.

Multimedia

How I Did the Story: Beat Reporting in a Medium Newsroom

How I Did the Story: Beat Reporting in a Medium Newsroom

Benjamin Herold of Education Week talks about the coverage he did for WHYY and the Philadelphia Public School Notebook in 2012, a particularly tumultuous year for the city’s school system. Herold’s coverage was awarded first prize in the beat reporting category, medium newsroom, in EWA’s 2012 National Awards for Education Reporting. Recorded at EWA’s 66th National Seminar, May 4, 2013 at Stanford University.

Multimedia

Arthur Levine: Lessons Learned About Teacher Education

Arthur Levine: Lessons Learned About Teacher Education

Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, delivers the keynote address at EWA’s Oct. 26, 2012 seminar, “Ready to Teach: Rethinking Routes to the Classroom.”

Recorded at the University of Minnesota.

Multimedia

Reporters’ Role: How Are News Outlets Covering the Story?

Reporters’ Role: How Are News Outlets Covering the Story?

Is the Fourth Estate influencing the debate over teacher evaluations? Should media publish data, by name, on the estimated value that teachers add to student test scores? What questions should reporters ask about value-added measures and other issues in reforming teacher evaluation? Recorded at EWA’s Nov. 12, 2011 Teacher Evaluation Seminar at the University of Chicago.

Multimedia

States of Change: Political Realities and Policy Reforms

States of Change: Political Realities and Policy Reforms

What are the thorniest issues states are facing in developing and putting in place new approaches? How are they striking the balance between state leadership and local flexibility? How much are state policies being influenced by federal carrots and sticks? Recorded at EWA’s Nov. 12, 2011 Teacher Evaluation Seminar at the University of Chicago.

Multimedia

In the Trenches: How Teachers See the Issues

In the Trenches: How Teachers See the Issues

What is the evaluation process typically like for a classroom teacher? How do teachers think the process could best be changed so that the results would actually help them improve? Do teachers think emerging approaches to evaluation are useful and fair? Recorded at EWA’s Nov. 12, 2011 Teacher Evaluation Seminar at the University of Chicago.

Multimedia

National Perspective: Common Themes, Different Contexts

National Perspective: Common Themes, Different Contexts

What lessons can be learned from initiatives around the country to revamp the way teacher performance is assessed? What role is federal policy playing in driving change? How are partnerships among districts, unions, and reformers playing out?

Panel recorded at EWA’s Nov. 12, 2011 Teacher Evaluation Seminar.

Webinar

Teacher Evaluations: A State-by-State Overview and Lessons From Early Adopters
1 hour 3 minutes

In advance of its 2011 State Teacher Policy Yearbook, the National Council on Teacher Quality offers a closer look into what is shaping up to be a critically important education policy trend. Across the nation states are engaged in create teacher evaluation systems to provide meaningful information about teacher performance, based in significant ways on student achievement, and tying information on teacher effectiveness to decisions of consequence about tenure, compensation, professional development and advancement.

Organization

The National Education Association

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest teachers’ union with nearly 3 million members. Its members work at every level of education, from preschool through postsecondary, but the bulk of its members work in K-12 education.

Organization

The National Council on Teacher Quality

The National Council on Teacher Quality is a nonpartisan research group that advocates for reforms with the goal of ensuring that each student has an effective teacher. Among other things, they gather information about policies affecting teacher preparation, compensation, evaluations and other issues on a state-by-state basis.

Key Coverage

As State Watches, L.A. Unified Tests New Ways to Grade Teachers

Nowhere else in California has the debate over the use of student test scores to grade teachers gained more attention than in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The second-largest school district in the nation at more than 640,000 students, Los Angeles Unified has become a testing ground to increase accountability for teachers, a movement that has gained speed across the nation. 

Report

Culture of Countenance: Teachers, Observers and the Effort to Reform Teacher Evaluations

Ten years ago, policymakers began to recognize that evaluation systems were not meaningfully distinguishing between teachers despite wide variations in teacher effectiveness. Even though some teachers were quite good–and others quite poor–at helping students make significant learning gains, these differences were not reflected in evaluations. In response, reform-minded legislatures and school systems in states such as Florida, Tennessee and Texas pursued overhauls of their evaluation systems. The result? Just as under the old systems, 97 percent of teachers are still rated as satisfactory or better. 

Key Coverage

Bush, Obama focus on standardized testing leads to ‘opt-out’ parents’ movement

A decade into the school accountability movement, pockets of resistance to standardized testing are sprouting up around the country, with parents and students opting out of the high-stakes tests used to evaluate schools and teachers. From Seattle, where 600 high school students refused to take a standardized test in January, to Texas, where 86 percent of school districts say the tests are “strangling our public schools,” anti-testing groups argue that bubble exams have proliferated beyond reason, delivering more angst than benefits.

Key Coverage

Teacher-Evaluation Plans Bedevil Waiver States

Even though 34 states and the District of Columbia have No Child Left Behind Act waivers in hand, many of them are still negotiating with the U.S. Department of Education over their teacher-evaluation systems—a crucial component if they want to keep their newfound flexibility.

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MET Project

The MET project was a research partnership between 3,000 teacher volunteers and dozens of independent research teams. The project’s goal was to build and test measures of effective teaching to find out how evaluation methods could best be used to tell teachers more about the skills that make them most effective and to help districts identify and develop great teaching.

Key Coverage

Should Student Test Scores Be Used To Evaluate Teachers?

How much to credit—and blame—teachers for student performance is an issue that continues to confound the education field. To what extent is each student’s progress directly attributable to the teacher’s efforts? What other factors can determine a student’s success? Is there a way to measure each factor separately, including the teacher’s influence?

Key Coverage

Federal Teacher Evaluation Requirement Has Wide Impact

In the Obama administration’s new push to turn around the bottom 5 percent of schools nationwide, the vast majority of districts chose the reform option that seemed the least invasive: Instead of closing schools or firing at least half of the teaching staff, schools could undergo less aggressive interventions, such as overhauling how teacher performance is measured and rewarding teachers who do well.

Key Coverage

States Try to Fix Quirks in Teacher Evaluations

Spurred by the requirements of the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition, Tennessee is one of more than a dozen states overhauling their evaluation systems to increase the number of classroom observations and to put more emphasis on standardized test scores. But even as New York State finally came to an agreement last week with its teachers’ unions on how to design its new system, places like Tennessee that are already carrying out similar plans are struggling with philosophical and logistical problems.

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State of the States

A look at how various states have changed their evaluation policies in the wake of Obama administration policy changes like Race to the Top.