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Amy N. Farley

University of Cincinnati

Amy Farley is an assistant professor in the Educational Leadership & Policy Studies program within the School of Education at the University of Cincinnati. Her research focuses broadly on equity in P-20 education systems and how consequential K-12 and postsecondary policies impact educational opportunity. She pays particular attention to school and university reform; high-stakes policies, including those regarding data use, measurement, and assessment; and the disparate impact of policies on minoritized student and teacher populations. Before becoming a faculty member, Amy worked as a K-12 educator and a Strategic Data Fellow through Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research, where she worked closely with state and local agencies to conduct research and provide technical assistance regarding the implementation of education policies and reforms related to standards, educator evaluation, and student assessment.

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NEPC Publications

NEPC Review: Making a Difference: Six Places Where Teacher Evaluation Systems Are Getting Results (National Council on Teacher Quality, October 2018)

Hannah Putman, Kate Walsh, & Elizabeth Ross
Making a Difference: Six Places Where Teacher Evaluation Systems Are Getting Results

A report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) highlights six teacher evaluation systems claimed to be “yielding substantial benefits.” This comes at the end of a decade when reformed teacher evaluation systems that link teacher performance to measures of student growth have been at the center of educational debate. Disagreements range from the theoretical (e.g., is teacher quality fundamentally related to inequalities in student outcomes?) to technical (e.g., which measures should be included and how should they be defined?) to practical (e.g., how should ratings be used for personnel decisions?). Overall, the research regarding teacher evaluation is mixed, at best. Most notably, a recent multi-year RAND report suggests that a $500 million investment in teacher evaluation that heavily weighted student growth measures, with considerable funding from the Gates Foundation, did not improve student outcomes and, in some cases, exacerbated unequal access to effective teachers for low-income students and students of color. The NCTQ report, while clearly promoting such teacher evaluation, does not seriously counter the groundswell of academic literature critiquing these systems. It does not address the relevant literature, present a compelling justification for its site selection or the inclusion criteria for evidence, or adequately consider disconfirming or contradictory evidence. These methodological flaws limit the validity of the report’s findings and conclusions, which ultimately diminishes the usefulness of the report for policy and practice. 

NEPC Review: For Good Measure? Teacher Evaluation Policy in the ESSA Era (Bellwether Education Partners, December 2016)

Kaitlin Pennington & Sara Mead
For Good Measure? Teacher Evaluation Policy in the ESSA Era

Although teacher evaluation reform has rapidly expanded across the U.S. in recent years, the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) seems to mark a federal deprioritization of teacher evaluation reform. This may in turn prompt states to consider changes to their evaluation systems. A new report from Bellwether Education Partners, For Good Measure? Teacher Evaluation Policy in the ESSA Era, argues for the maintenance of key elements of high-stakes teacher evaluation, including the use of student outcomes to evaluate teachers and a heavy focus on accountability. It urges policymakers to move slowly in revising their systems and to invest in management, capacity, and strategies to capture lessons learned. While the report raises several good questions with regard to the future of teacher evaluation, it overstates the likelihood that ESSA will result in widespread changes to evaluation systems, it ignores the literature regarding substantial technical challenges and unintended consequences of growth measures, and it dismisses the ideological and political debates surrounding teacher accountability. The unsubstantiated claims and dogged defense of student growth metrics provides little fresh or worthwhile new directions to policymakers seeking a nuanced and research-based discussion of teacher evaluation reform in the ESSA era.