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, New York stops short of requiring that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.
The state requires that 40 percent of the evaluation score be based on student academic achievement. More specifically, 20 percent is student growth on state assessments or a comparable measure of student achievement growth (this increases to 25 percent on implementation of a value-added growth model), and 20 percent is locally selected measures of student achievement that are determined to be rigorous and comparable across classrooms (this decreases to 15 percent on implementation of a value-added growth model).
The remaining 60 percent is made up of other measures of teacher effectiveness. A majority of this 60 percent must be based on multiple classroom observations. The remaining portion must be based on one or more of the following: observations by third party evaluators, peer observations, parent/student feedback and/or student portfolios. Further, teachers must earn better than "ineffective" ratings on at least one of the two student growth/achievement subcomponents as well as the other 60 percent measure in order to earn an overall rating higher than "ineffective." In addition, if both student achievement subcomponents are "ineffective," the overall rating will be "ineffective."
Teachers must be rated using the following multiple rating categories: highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective.
A9554 (2012) Education Law 3012-C
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
New York 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 evaluations also include classroom observations that specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
Although New York 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.
New York asserted that its teacher and principal evaluation system incorporates state-approved observation rubrics, all of which were reviewed for consistency with the state's goal of increasing student achievement. Rubrics were specifically reviewed for compliance with Education Law 3012-c, which states, in part, that "such annual professional performance reviews shall result in a single composite teacher or principal effectiveness score, which incorporates multiple measures of effectiveness related to the criteria included in the regulations of the commissioner." As a result, each approved observation instrument relies on student learning as the primary objective.
New York also pointed out that it has developed and provided multiple sessions of professional development, specifically focused on the appropriate use of the approved rubrics, to ensure that the rubrics are utilized in a manner that successfully measures student growth. The state has also provided districts with resources and tools that clearly articulate and demonstrate the teaching and learning standards for their use in ensuring that rubrics are adequately aligned with the approved standards, as specified by the Commissioner's Regulations.
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.