Teacher evaluation is an important part of professional development and should be an integral asset to all school districts. Effective evaluation starts with defining great teaching: that which encourages and develops student learning. In addition, setting a high bar for student and teacher achievement is critical. This includes not setting a low bar for what is considered “passable” for both student and teacher.
Effective evaluation for teachers needs to be based on specific standards, just like it is for students. Criteria for teacher evaluation needs to leave little to no room for inference, be student-centered, be based on multiple ratings, and convey the significance of the evaluation to overall professional development. Rather than using a “pass/fail” metric, rubrics should be based on a 0-4 scale using “Incomplete” through “Highly Effective.” Perhaps most importantly, teachers must be given as many opportunities as possible to improve their teaching. This includes all teachers, not just those scoring in the “Ineffective” or “Needs Improvement” range. This could include mentoring, professional development, lesson studying, etc.
One method of teacher evaluation involves having an expert, namely another experienced teacher, principal, or outside evaluator, come into the classroom and conduct a formal observation at least once per year. Teachers being observed are, ideally, provided with a detailed, specific rubric based on the InTASC Core Teaching Standards. After the evaluation (and hopefully before), teachers have a face-to-face meeting with their evaluator to discuss the lesson, what went well, what could be improved, etc.
Another method of teacher evaluation, currently in use by my school system, is to use student and parent evaluations as a larger part of the teacher’s overall evaluation. At least once per semester (6 months), teachers will have an open-class where all parents are welcome to attend. Parents fill out an observation form based on criteria designed by the school administration. This includes sections on class management, engaging activities, class attitude, etc. I would, however, advocate for mostly removing parents from the equation since they only get a small snapshot our classes and are not experts. If they have to be included, make it a small percentage of the teacher’s final evaluation. In addition, my school also uses student evaluations. These are, in my opinion, a much more effective and reliable source of information because the students see us almost every day and are de facto experts on our teaching.
If I were to design a teacher evaluation system, I would use a highly specific, InTASC-based rubric at least once per semester. Teachers would also be evaluated by end of semester student evaluations. Any rubrics used should address the most fundamental part of a teacher’s job: how well are all the students learning? Teachers need to address differentiation, class management, content, activities, 21st-century skills, and effective assessments to be great teachers. A final evaluation for teachers, whether or not it factors into raises or retention, needs to be based on multiple sources since no single assessment is perfect.
American Federation of Teachers. (n.d.). Teacher Development and Evaluation. Retrieved June 05, 2017, from https://www.aft.org/position/teacher-development-and-evaluation
The New Teacher Project. (n.d.). Teacher Evaluation 2.0. The New Teacher Project. Retrieved June 5, 2017, from tntp.org.