Evaluation of Effectiveness : Missouri

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.

Meets a small part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Evaluation of Effectiveness : Missouri results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/MO-Evaluation-of-Effectiveness--8

Analysis of Missouri's policies

Missouri does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.

The state requires local districts to formulate performance-based teacher evaluation instruments, for which the state provides comprehensive guidelines, including descriptors of the performance standards as well as model evaluation forms. Teachers are evaluated under six standards ranging from managing student behavior to causing students to learn. The evaluation process holds teachers accountable for observed measures of student learning and seeks limited examples of such, including student portfolios, but it does not go as far as to encourage the specific use of objective measures, such as standardized tests. Classroom observations are required.

Citation

Recommendations for Missouri

Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Although Missouri considers limited measures of student learning in its teacher evaluation, it falls short by failing to require that evidence of student learning be the most significant criterion. The state 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 a satisfactory rating if found ineffective in the classroom. 

Ensure that classroom observations specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
Although Missouri commendably requires classroom observations as part of teacher evaluations, the state should articulate guidelines that focus classroom 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.

Utilize rating categories that meaningfully differentiate among various levels of teacher performance.
To ensure that the evaluation instrument accurately differentiates among levels of teacher performance, Missouri should require districts to utilize multiple rating categories, such as highly effective, effective, needs improvement and ineffective. A binary system that merely categorizes teachers as satisfactory or unsatisfactory is inadequate.

State response to our analysis

Missouri asserted that it adopted a model set of Teacher and Leader Standards in June 2011. Standards include quality indicators articulated across a professional continuum, and a rubric has been developed for each. Indicators have been clustered into three frames that include professional commitment, professional practice and professional impact. Each frame draws from multiple sources of evidence to determine the educator's status on the continuum for any particular indicator. Sources of evidence include a wide variety of measures of student learning, particularly in the professional impact frame.

Missouri added that it will conduct extensive field testing in a pilot project this year to refine this performance assessment system before widespread release next summer. While it will be offered as a model system, the state has the expectation that districts will "meet or exceed" the model system. 

Research rationale

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, "Teacher Hiring, Assignment and Transfer in Chicago Public Schools (CPS)" (July2007) 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 Brian Jacobs and Lars Lefgren, "When Principals Rate Teachers," Education Next (Spring 2006). 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. Loeb et al, "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 et al, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next Vol 11 No. 3 (2011); E. Taylor and J. Tyler, "The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-Career Teachers." National Bureau of Economic Research (2011); as well as Herbert G. Heneman III, et al., "CPRE Policy Brief: Standards-based Teacher Evaluation as a Foundation for Knowledge- and Skill-based Pay," Consortium for Policy Research, 2006.