TQB: Teacher Quality Bulletin

Looking For Those Multiple Measures

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Running in Place highlights the paradox of the ineffective "effective" teacher—one who fails to impact student achievement but remains eligible to receive a good performance evaluation. This prospect represents a major weakness in evaluation frameworks, and we'd love to see this particular loophole closed. But, no conversation about teacher evaluation is complete without a reminder about the importance of using multiple measures to assess teacher performance. A new study about student surveys gives us the perfect opportunity to keep up that drumbeat.

Researchers Tanner Wallace (University of Pittsburgh), Benjamin Kelcey (University of Cincinnati), and Erik Ruzek (University of Virginia) used data from the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) Project to see how well student perceptions of teacher quality aligned with other performance measures, including observations and value added. The survey instrument—Tripod—covers seven dimensions of teacher quality, including the student's perception that a teacher cares about students, solicits their viewpoint, teaches engaging material, clarifies ideas, places content in context, sets high expectations, and exhibits good classroom management.

They found that students' overall perception of their teachers (measured as a composite of all dimensions, except classroom management) correlated, albeit modestly, with teacher's value-added scores. The classroom management dimension, by itself, also correlated with teachers' value-added scores and the classroom management component of teacher observations. In other words, the study provides fresh evidence that student surveys provide credible, supplementary insight into teacher performance.

The results are good news for the rapidly growing number of states that rely on student surveys in teacher evaluations. In 2013, 14 states encouraged or required the use of student surveys in teacher evaluations; by 2015, that number had grown to 33. Together, surveys, student achievement measures, and observation scores can provide a more complete picture of a teacher's performance—presuming states and districts treat each component with the seriousness it deserves.