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VAMboozled!: New Teacher Evaluation Report Released by the Network for Public Education

A new report on current teacher evaluation systems throughout the US was just released by the Network for Public Education. The report is titled, “Teachers Talk Back: Educators on the Impact of Teacher Evaluation,” and below are their findings, followed by a condensed version of their six recommendations (as taken from the Executive Summary, although you can read the full 17-page report, again, here): 


  • Teachers and principals believe that evaluations based on student test scores, especially Value Added Measures (VAMs), are neither valid nor reliable measures of their work. They believe that VAM scores punish teachers who work with the most vulnerable students. Of the respondents, 83% indicated that the use of test scores in evaluations has had a negative impact on instruction, and 88% said that more time is spent on test prep than ever before. Evaluations based on frameworks and rubrics, such as those created by Danielson and Marzano, have resulted in wasting far too much time. This is damaging the very work evaluation is supposed to improve, as valuable time is diverted to engage in related compliance exercises and paperwork. Of the respondents, 84% reported a significant increase in teacher time spent on evaluations.
  • The emphasis on improving test scores has overwhelmed every aspect of teachers’ work, forcing them to spend precious collaborative time poring over student data rather than having conversations about students and instruction. Sixty-six percent of respondents reported a negative impact on relationships with their students as a result of the pressure to focus on test scores.
  • Over half of the respondents (52.08%) reported witnessing evidence of bias against veteran educators. This supports evidence that evaluations are having a disparate impact, contributing to a decline in teachers of color, veteran teachers, and those serving students in poverty. A recent study (ASI, 2015) found that changes to evaluation practices have coincided with a precipitous drop in the number of black teachers in nine major cities.
  • Teacher professional development tied to the evaluation process is having a stifling effect on teachers, by undermining their sense of autonomy, and limiting their capacity for real professional growth. 85% of respondents indicated that high quality professional development is not connected to their evaluations, and 84% reported a negative effect on conversations between teachers and supervisors. Collegial relationships have also been affected, with 81% of respondents reporting negative changes in conversations with colleagues.


  1. We recommend an immediate halt to the use of test scores as any part of teacher evaluation.
  2. We recommend that teacher collaboration not be tied to evaluation but instead be a teacher-led cooperative process that focuses on their students’ and their own professional learning.
  3. We recommend that the observation process focus on improving instruction—resulting in reflection and dialogue between teacher and observer—the result should be a narrative, not a number.
  4. We recommend that evaluations require less paperwork and documentation so that more time can be spent on reflection and improvement of instruction.
  5. We recommend an immediate review of the impact that evaluations have had on teachers of color and veteran teachers.
  6. We recommend that teachers not be “scored” on professional development activities nor that professional development be dictated by evaluation scores rather than teacher needs.

Again, to read more, please see the full article, as also cited here: The Network for Public Education. (2020). Teachers talk back: Educators on the impact of teacher evaluation.

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Audrey Amrein-Beardsley

Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, a former middle- and high-school mathematics teacher, received her Ph.D. in 2002 from Arizona State University (ASU) from the Division of...