Identifying Effective Teachers Policy
The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
New Hampshire does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.
The state gives local school boards the authority to set policies for teacher evaluations and gives school principals the responsibility for conducting these personnel evaluations, yet the state is silent about the content of and the expectation for these evaluations.
New Hampshire's Task Force on Effective Teaching outlines a model system that incorporates measures of student performance and multiple rating categories. However, these elements are not mandatory. Districts may adopt this model in its entirety or use it as a starting point for designing their own systems. "It is clearly understood that the sole authority for the content and methodology of a teacher and leader evaluation system rests with the local school district. The State Model is an expression of what the Task Force considers 'best practices' in teacher evaluation."
Also, New Hampshire has received a waiver from portions of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which requires the state to include growth in student achievement as a significant factor in the evaluation framework, as well as a multitiered rating system. New Hampshire will need to address these stipulations in board rule or statute to maintain compliance with the waiver.
Part Ed 303 Duties of School Boards: 303.01 (a); Part Ed 304 Duties of School Principals: 304.01 (c) The New Hampshire Task Force of Effective Teaching: Phase II http://education.nh.gov/teaching/documents/phase2report.pdf
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
New Hampshire 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. Whether state or locally developed, a teacher should not be able to receive an effective rating if found ineffective in the classroom.
Ensure that classroom observations specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
New Hampshire should not only require that its evaluations include classroom observations, but also the state should specifically articulate that these observations focus on effectiveness of instruction. The primary component of a classroom observation should be 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, New Hampshire 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.
New Hampshire asserted that it has received a second waiver from the requirements of NCLB, and all elements of Principal 3 were approved. All Title I schools (N=223) are required to use an evaluation system with 20 percent weighting on multiple measures of student performance. Multiple rating categories are also required. The model system uses the professional education standards, which contain a significant focus on instruction and are in the state regulations. New Hampshire further noted that although this model system design is not in statute or regulation, districts are moving toward using it. Districts containing both Title I and nonTitle I schools are adopting the model system for the entire district rather than using differential systems within districts. The state uses an annual educator evaluation survey that asks all schools to report the number of educator evaluations that fall into each of the four rating categories.
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.