Identifying Effective Teachers Policy
The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Although the state requires student performance data to be a factor, Indiana does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations. Districts develop evaluation systems based on criteria set forth by the state.
Evaluations must be based on multiple measures that include student performance. Objective measures of student achievement and growth must "significantly inform" the evaluation. Objective measures must include state assessment results for teachers of subjects measured by such assessments, or methods for assessing student growth for teachers of subjects not measured by state assessments. Where a mandatory state assessment exists, districts must use it as a measure of student learning. If that state assessment provides individual growth model data, it must be used as that teacher's primary measure of student learning.
The following four rating categories must be used: highly effective, effective, improvement necessary and ineffective. Districts must include a provision that a teacher who negatively affects student achievement and growth cannot receive a rating of highly effective or effective.
Classroom observations are required.
Indiana Code 20-28-11.5 511 IAC 10-6-4
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Indiana's requirement falls short by failing to require that evidence of student learning be the most significant criterion, and the state's vague language leaves room for interpretation as to the actual measure of "significantly inform" in the overall evaluation score. Indiana should either require a common evaluation instrument in which evidence of student learning is the most significant criterion, or it should specifically require that student learning be the preponderant criterion in local evaluation processes. This can be accomplished by requiring objective evidence to count for at least half of the evaluation score or through other scoring mechanisms, such as a matrix, that ensure that nothing affects the overall score more. Whether state or locally developed, a teacher should not be able to receive an effective rating if found ineffective in the classroom.
Ensure that evaluations also include classroom observations that specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
Although Indiana requires classroom observations as part of teacher evaluations, the state should articulate guidelines that focus these observations on the quality of instruction, as measured by student time on task, student grasp or mastery of the lesson objective and efficient use of class time.
Indiana reiterated that any teacher who has a negative impact on student achievement and growth cannot receive a rating of highly effective or effective. The state also noted that the RISE Evaluation and Development System provides guidelines under which Indiana school districts may adopt evaluation instruments. The following are all addressed within RISE and are incorporated within a RISE rubric for teacher/classroom observations: how students are engaged, level or mastery of subject matter, adjustment of lessons to accommodate student skills and knowledge level, and accommodations for ELL and IEP students. Therefore, Indiana asserted that it is not accurate that the state does not “articulate guidelines” in effectiveness of instruction. In addition, principals/evaluators are provided guidelines or examples to consider when observing teachers in order to help identify teachers who are highly effective, effective, needing improvement or ineffective in a particular competency. Engaging students in academic content, checking for understanding, modifying instruction, maintaining rigor and maximizing efficient use of instructional time are all included.
The state’s response indicates its belief that it is sufficient for a teacher with a negative impact on student growth to be prevented from achieving an effective rating. A negative impact on student growth means that students actually lost ground with that teacher. It should go without saying that such a teacher should not be able to receive an effective rating. But this also suggests that the state believes that any growth at all—however small—indicates effective teaching. Teachers with students who have much less growth than teachers of comparable students should not be able to achieve an effective rating.
Value-added analysis connects student data to teacher data to measure achievement and performance.
Value-added models are an important tool for measuring student achievement and school effectiveness. These models measure individual students' learning gains, controlling for students' previous knowledge. They can also control for students' background characteristics. In the area of teacher quality, value-added models offer a fairer and potentially more meaningful way to evaluate a teacher's effectiveness than other methods schools use.
For example, at one time a school might have known only that its fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Jones, consistently had students who did not score at grade level on standardized assessments of reading. With value-added analysis, the school can learn that Mrs. Jones' students were reading on a third-grade level when they entered her class, and that they were above a fourth-grade performance level at the end of the school year. While not yet reaching appropriate grade level, Mrs. Jones' students had made more than a year's progress in her class. Because of value-added data, the school can see that she is an effective teacher.Teachers should be judged primarily by their impact on students.
While many factors should be considered in formally evaluating a teacher, nothing is more important than effectiveness in the classroom.
Unfortunately, districts have used many evaluation instruments, including some mandated by states, that are structured so that teachers can earn a satisfactory rating without any evidence that they are sufficiently advancing student learning in the classroom. It is often enough that teachers appear to be trying, not that they are necessarily succeeding.
Many evaluation instruments give as much weight, or more, to factors that lack any direct correlation with student performance—for example, taking professional development courses, assuming extra duties such as sponsoring a club or mentoring and getting along well with colleagues. Some instruments hesitate to hold teachers accountable for student progress. Teacher evaluation instruments should include factors that combine both human judgment and objective measures of student learning.
Evaluation of Effectiveness: Supporting Research
Reports strongly suggest that most current teacher evaluations are largely a meaningless process, failing to identify the strongest and weakest teachers. The New Teacher Project's report, "Hiring, Assignment, and Transfer in Chicago Public Schools", July 2007 at: http://www.tntp.org/files/TNTPAnalysis-Chicago.pdf, found that the CPS teacher performance evaluation system at that time did not distinguish strong performers and was ineffective at identifying poor performers and dismissing them from Chicago schools. See also Lars Lefgren and Brian Jacobs, "When Principals Rate Teachers," Education Next, Volume 6, No. 2, Spring 2006, pp.59-69. Similar findings were reported for a larger sample in The New Teacher Project's The Widget Effect (2009) at: http://widgeteffect.org/. See also MET Project (2010). Learning about teaching: Initial findings from the measures of effective teaching project. Seattle, WA: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
A Pacific Research Institute study found that in California, between 1990 and 1999, only 227 teacher dismissal cases reached the final phase of termination hearings. The authors write: "If all these cases occurred in one year, it would represent one-tenth of 1 percent of tenured teachers in the state. Yet, this number was spread out over an entire decade." In Los Angeles alone, over the same time period, only one teacher went through the dismissal process from start to finish. See Pamela A. Riley, et al., "Contract for Failure," Pacific Research Institute (2002).
That the vast majority of districts have no teachers deserving of an unsatisfactory rating does not seem to correlate with our knowledge of most professions that routinely have individuals in them who are not well suited to the job. Nor do these teacher ratings seem to correlate with school performance, suggesting teacher evaluations are not a meaningful measure of teacher effectiveness. For more information on the reliability of many evaluation systems, particularly the binary systems used by the vast majority of school districts, see S. Glazerman, D. Goldhaber, S. Loeb, S. Raudenbush, D. Staiger, and G. Whitehurst, "Evaluating Teachers: The Important Role of Value-Added." The Brookings Brown Center Task Group on Teacher Quality, 2010.
There is growing evidence suggesting that standards-based teacher evaluations that include multiple measures of teacher effectiveness—both objective and subjective measures—correlate with teacher improvement and student achievement. For example see T. Kane, E. Taylor, J. Tyler, and A. Wooten, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next, Volume 11, No. 3, Summer 2011, pp.55-60; E. Taylor and J. Tyler, "The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-Career Teachers." NBER Working Paper No. 16877, March 2011; as well as H. Heneman III, A. Milanowski, S. Kimball, and A. Odden, "CPRE Policy Brief: Standards-based Teacher Evaluation as a Foundation for Knowledge- and Skill-based Pay," Consortium for Policy Research, March 2006.