Highlights the Variability in Teacher Performance Measures Based on Classroom Observation Instruments, Raises Important Questions
Note: The following release replaces the original NEPC release, which failed to reflect final edits.
URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/82zrr3d
BOULDER, CO (March 13, 2012) – The Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project, published by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, examines several methods of evaluating teacher performance, including so-called value-added measures, the subject of much recent attention.
The project's second report, Gathering Feedback for Teaching: Combining High-Quality Observation with Student Surveys and Achievement Gains, focuses on analyzing ratings of classroom observations using a variety of observation instruments. Cassandra Guarino of Indiana University and Brian Stacy of Michigan State University reviewed it for the Think Twice think tank review project. The review is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.
Reviewers Guarino and Stacy question the emphasis placed on validating classroom observations with test score gains. Observation scores may pick up different aspects of teacher quality than do test-based measures. It is possible that neither type of measure used in isolation captures a teacher's contribution to all the useful skills that students learn in schools. From this standpoint, the authors' conclusion that multiple measures of teacher effectiveness are needed is justifiable.
The omission of relevant information is a shortcoming of the report. Key details regarding the study design and methodological approach are lacking.
The review provoked several important questions to consider:
- Given the cost and painstaking efforts required to train classroom observers, can districts implement a classroom-evaluation system that creates a highly reliable measure?
- Do the classroom observations pick up on non-cognitive skills?
- Can the feedback they provide improve teaching effectiveness in a meaningful way?
The authors conclude that the report offers ground-breaking descriptive information regarding classroom observation tools and raises many questions to be addressed in future research. It takes a large step forward but only scratches the surface in exploring how these measures can best be used or improved upon as evaluation tools.
Find the review by Cassandra Guarino and Brian Stacy on the NEPC website at:
Find Gathering Feedback for Teaching: Combining High-Quality Observation with Student Surveys and Achievement Gains, by Thomas J. Kane and Douglas O. Staiger, on the web at:
The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policy makers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence. For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.
This review is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/