TEACHER EVALUATION - a review of the literature
This page summarises and quotes from the surprisingly
sparse literature on the evaluation and appraisal of teachers.
"Few educational researchers and developers have worked on the evaluation of teachers, who, after all, are the key performers of the curriculum and the classroom... Poor practice in teacher evaluation is quietly accepted, according to teachers, administrators, and researchers." (Peterson 2000: ix) Peterson's book suggests that teacher evaluation requires twelve new directions:
1. Emphasize that the function of teacher evaluation is to seek
out, document and acknowledge GOOD teaching.
2. Use good reasons to evaluate teachers - e.g. to discover what training and development are required.
3. Place the teacher at the centre of evaluation.
4. Use more than one person to judge teacher quality and performance.
5. Limit the judgmental role of administrators.
6. Use multiple data sources to inform judgments about teacher quality.
7. Include student achievement data.
8. Vary data sources depending on the individual teacher's roles and approaches.
9. Spend time and resources on recognising good teaching.
10. Use research on teacher evaluation correctly.
11. Attend to the sociology of teacher evaluation by recognising the complex organisational factors at play in any educational institution.
12. Use the results of teacher evaluation to encourage professional dossiers, publicize results and support teacher promotion.
Peterson is not the only researcher who believes that current teacher evaluation practices are in dire need of change as the quotes below indicate:
"Teacher evaluation is a disaster. The practices are shoddy,
and the principles are unclear." (Scriven 1981: 244)
"Evaluators are mistaken if they assume they are observing the typical behaviour of a teacher with the usual evaluation procedure" (Stodolsky 1984: 17)
"Principals lacked sufficient resolve and competence to evaluate accurately." (Wise et al 1984: 22)
"Teachers see nothing to be gained from evaluation." (Wolf 1973: 160)
Teachers "regard the practice as an institutional obligation to be endured rather than an opportunity to be seized." (Johnson 1990: 266)
If a school can justify evaluating all teachers through identical procedures, then the school is probably devoid of innovations." (Travers 1981: 22)
"An approach based on this kind of (classroom observation based) research cannot be a legitimate method of teacher evaluation." (Scriven 1987: 9)
"In most school districts, the norms and expectations that surround teacher evaluation preclude a maeningful activity." (McLaughlin 1990: 404)
Hardly surprising when you consider that most current practice is based on a principal or supervisor report which in turn is based on a classroom visit (Bridges 1992, Peterson & Chenoweth 1992, Lewis 1982) or a checklist of what good teaching should involve (Good & Mulryan 1990).
Scriven's (1981) review of summative teacher evaluation although
dated still provides us with the most comprehensive list of DOs and DON'Ts in
teacher evaluation. He states we should:
1. Evaluate administrators.
2. Evaluate all the roles of the teacher, not just their classroom practice.
3. Distinguish between the teacher's worth to the school and the value of their teaching.
4. Provide an independent support system for teachers being evaluated.
5. Involve students.
6. Look at course content.
He also emphasizes we should not:
1. Use classroom visits because:
a - the observer alters the classroom dynamics
b - the observer cannot visit enough classes to be representative
c - the observer cannot avoid their personal prejudices
d - teaching styles cannot be linked to student achievevment
e - the observer cannot observe as a student.
2. Focus entirely on teaching processes.
3. Misuse student questionnaires.
4. Use alumni surveys.
The six major problems with current teacher evaluation practices give us a
good framework to build effective appraisal systems by addressing each of them
in the design of any new approach.
1. Teachers do not support evaluation schemes.
2. Difficulties are oversimplified.
3. Minimal competency is assessed rather than desired competency.
4. Exceptional teacher cases are not considered.
5. Many systems rely on overquantification.
6. The general public and parents are not reassured by current practice.
So, a good teacher evaluation scheme must have:
1. Clear purposes, be they to determine good teaching (Scriven 1973), to reassure audiences (Lortie 1975), to acknowledge teacher achievement (Owens 1991) or to support staffing decisions (Lawrence et al 1993).
2. Clear criteria for judging teacher quality that accept that teaching is a complex activity dependent on a specific context and delievered to a specific audience.
3. Clear processes for decision making that accept the inherent subjectivity that occurs in all teacher evaluation.
4. A clear definition of quality teaching that is not based on a minimum competency.
5. Teacher involvement.
6. As many different and varied sources of data as possible (Peterson, Stevens & Ponzio 1998).
7. Validity and reliability.
8. Consideration for the multiple roles of teachers.
9. Acknowledgement for exceptional practice built into the system.
10. Transparency of process and protection from political influences (Peterson 2000, 84).
A balanced and effective teacher evaluation scheme should allow teachers to
collect data from multiple sources in the form of portfolios or dossiers. Teachers
should be guided by the scheme and a support network as to what they should
best include in their presented documents. Data they should consider are:
1. Student reports (Scriven 1994).
2. Peer reviews (Bird 1990).
3. Student achievement data (Stake 1973, Berk 1988).
4. Teacher tests (Strike 1990, Haertel 1990). (I must admit this is not one of my prefered options nor one I use).
5. Parent reports (Morgan 1988).
6. Documentation of professional activity (Peterson 1988).
7. Systematic observation (Evertson & Burry 1989, Allwright 1988, McGreal 1983, Good 1980).
8. Administrator report (Lawrence et al 1993, Johnson 1990).
9. Any other data unique to a teacher's situation (Danielson 1996, Webster & Mendro 1995).
As well as clarity on what to include in the teacher-compiled portfolio or
dossier, there must also be clear guidelines on the form and length of the compilations
and, most importantly on how they are to be reviewed. My preference is for a
short compilation of six pages although the literature tends towards a larger
15-pages of documentation (Peterson 2000, Wolf & Dietz 1998, Ponzio et al
1994, Perrone 1991, Bird 1990).
How these compilations are then evaluated has been widely discussed with most recommending a teacher evaluation board or review panel using guidelines for review (Peterson 2000, 257-266). Personally, I advocate a guided discussion framework between the teacher and supervisor with the pair summarising the compilation on a one-page cover sheet.
Allwright, D. (1988) Observation in the Language Classroom. London, Longman.
Berk, R. A. (1988) Fifty Reasons Why Student Achievement Gain Does Not Mean Teacher Effectiveness. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 1, 345-363.
Bird, T. (1990) The Schoolteachers' Portfolio: An essay on possibilities. In J. Millman & L. Darling-Hammond (eds) The New Handbook of Teacher Evaluation: Assessing elementary and secondary school teachers (pp.241-256). Newbury Park, CA. Sage.
Bridges, E. M. (1992) The Incompetent Teacher. Philadelphia. Falmer.
Danielson, C. (1996) Enhancing Professional Practice: A framework for teaching. Alexandria, VA, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Evertson, C. M. & Burry, J. A. (1989) Capturing Classroom Context: The observation system as lens for assessment. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 2, 297-320.
Good, T. L. (1980) Classroom Observations: Potential & problems. In W. R. Duckett (ed) Observation and the evaluation of teaching (pp.2-44). Bloomington, IN. Phi Delta Kappa.
Good, T. L. & Mulryan, C. (1990) Teacher Ratings: A call for teacher control and self evaluation. In J. Millman & L. Darling-Hammond (eds) The New Handbook of Teacher Evaluation: Assessing elementary and secondary school teachers (pp.191-215). Newbury Park, CA. Sage.
Haertel, E. H. (1990) Performance Tests, Simulations and Other Methods. In J. Millman & L. Darling-Hammond (eds) The New Handbook of Teacher Evaluation: Assessing elementary and secondary school teachers (pp.278-294). Newbury Park, CA. Sage.
Johnson, S. M. (1990) Teachers at Work: Achieving success in our schools. New York. Basic Books.
Lawrence, C. E., Vachon, M. K., Leake, D. O. & Leake, B. H. (1993) The Marginal Teacher. Newbury Park, CA. Corwin.
Lewis, A. C. (1982) Evaluating Educational Personnel. Arlington, VA, American Association of School Adminstrators.
Lortie, D. C. (1975) Schoolteacher: A sociological study. Chicago, Chicago University Press.
McGreal, T. L. (1983) Successful Teacher Evaluation. Alexandria, VA. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
McLaughlin, M. W. (1990) Embracing Contraries: Implementing and sustaining teacher evaluation. In J. Millman & L. Darling-Hammond (eds) The New Handbook of Teacher Evaluation: Assessing elementary and secondary school teachers (pp.403-415). Newbury Park, CA. Sage.
Morgan, D. L. (1988) Focus Groups as Qualitative Research. Newbury Park, CA. Sage.
Owens, R. G. (1991) Organisational Behaviour in Education. Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Prentice Hall.
Perrone, V. (ed) (1991) Expanding Student Assessment. Alexandria, VA. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Peterson, K. D. (2000) Teacher Evaluation: A comprehensive guide to new directions and practices. Thousand Oaks, CA. Corwin Press.
Peterson, K.D. Stevens, D. & Ponzio, R. C. (1998) Variable Data Sources in Teacher Evaluation. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 31 (3), 123-132.
Peterson, K. D. & Chenoweth, T. (1992) School Teachers' Control and Involvement in their Own Evaluation. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 6, 177-189.
Peterson, K. D. (1988) Reliability of Panel Judgments for Promotion is a School Teacher Career Ladder System. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 21 (4), 95-99.
Ponzio, R. C., Peterson, K. D., Miller, J. P. & Kinney, M. B. (1994) A Program Portfolio / Panel Review Evaluation of 4-H Sponsored Community-Based, Social Action Projects for at-Risk Youth. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 28 (1), 55-65.
Scriven, M. (1973) Handbook for Model Training Program in Qualitative Educational Evaluation. Berkeley. University of California Press.
Scriven, M. (1981) Summative Teacher Evaluation. In J. Millman & L. Darling-Hammond (eds) The New Handbook of Teacher Evaluation: Assessing elementary and secondary school teachers (pp.244-271). Newbury Park, CA. Sage.
Scriven, M. (1987) Validity in Personnel Evaluation. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 1, 9-24.
Scriven, M. (1994) Using Student Ratings in Teacher Evaluation. Evaluation Perspectives, 4 (1), 1-6.
Stake, R. E. (1973) Measuring What Learners Learn. In E. House (ed) School Evaluation: The politics and process (pp.193-223). Berkeley, CA. McCutchan.
Stodolsky, S. S. (1984) Teacher Evaluation: The limits of looking. Educational Researcher, 13(9), 11-18.
Strike, K. A. (1990) The Ethics of Educational Evaluation. In J. Millman & L. Darling-Hammond (eds) The New Handbook of Teacher Evaluation: Assessing elementary and secondary school teachers (pp.356-373). Newbury Park, CA. Sage.
Travers, R. M. W. (1981) Criteria of Good Teaching. In J. Millman (ed) Handbook of Teacher Evaluation (pp.14-22). Beverly Hills, CA. Sage.
Webster, W. & Mendro, R. (1995) An Accountability System Featuring Both "Value-Added" and Product Measures of Schooling. In A. J. Shinkfield & D. Stufflebeam (eds) Teacher evaluation: Guide to effective practice (pp.350-376). Boston. Kluwer.
Wise, A. E., Darling-Hammond, L., McLaughlin, M. W. & Berstein, H. T. (1984) Teacher Evaluation: A study of effective practices. Santa Monica, CA. RAND.
Wolf, R. (1973) How Teachers Feel toward Evaluation. In E. House (ed) School Evaluation: The politics and process (pp.156-168). Berkeley, CA. McCutchan.
Wolf, K. & Dietz, M. (1998) Teaching Portfolios: Purposes and possibilities. Teacher Education Quarterly, 25, 9-22.
The Educational Excellence Network
Educational Testing Service - PRAXIS series for teachers
MCREL: Action Research / Teacher as Researcher
NBPTS - National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
Standards-Based Teacher Evaluation
CREATE - Consortium for Research on Educational Accountability and Teacher Evaluation