Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Strategic Measures of Teacher Performance: Moving from Our Current Haphazard System of Teacher Evaluation to a More Systematic Approach to Evaluation Is a Cohesive Strategy for Improving the Performance of Our Schools

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Strategic Measures of Teacher Performance: Moving from Our Current Haphazard System of Teacher Evaluation to a More Systematic Approach to Evaluation Is a Cohesive Strategy for Improving the Performance of Our Schools

Article excerpt

Measuring teacher performance is one of the foundations of strategic management of human capital in education. Most basic activities in human capital management--hiring, induction, performance evaluation, and, increasingly, compensation--depend on measuring teacher performance. Performance measures are also important for documenting teacher success. But useful measurements of teacher performance must go beyond a single administrator with minimal training rating a teacher satisfactory or unsatisfactory based a single observation in a classroom.

Recent advances in measuring teaching practice must be combined with the developing technology for measuring the outcomes of practice (for example, value-added) because neither alone is sufficient for all human capital management needs. Outcome measures don't provide enough information to improve teacher performance. Likewise, instructional practice measures that aren't linked to effects on learning are likely to lose their rigor and relevance. At this stage of the policy debate, many stakeholders will accept a practice measure only if it can be linked to the "bottom line": student outcomes.

MEASURING PRACTICE

Measuring teaching practice begins by translating a vision of effective instruction into a model that makes explicit what competent performance is. This model would summarize the teaching behaviors and related skills that constitute effective teaching, including instructional planning, classroom management, delivering instruction, and what teachers need to know and be able to do to implement particular state or district instructional strategies. The model then provides a template for aligning all state and district measurements and practices so they work together to acquire, develop, motivate, and retain teachers with the requisite competencies.

Developing a teacher competency model doesn't require reinventing the wheel. Designers can start with state teaching standards, standards promulgated by such national organizations as INTASC and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and by such frameworks as Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Teaching or the New Teacher Center's Continuum of Teacher Development. Beginning with an existing model captures those aspects of teaching that are similar across states and districts. Designers would then add competencies that reflect a particular state or district vision and those needed to support local instructional initiatives and strategies. Several districts (e.g., Chicago and Cincinnati) and states (e.g., Idaho and Delaware) have modified Danielson's Framework for their teacher evaluation systems. Allan Odden and Marc Wallace (2008) present another modification to this framework, with 15 standards addressing planning, classroom management, delivering instruction, reflection on teaching, collaboration with colleagues, and communication with families.

Another approach might be to use the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) for competencies related to classroom management, student engagement, and teacher-student interactions, and then add specific competencies related to instructional planning, student assessment, and district instructional strategies. The Measuring Effective Teaching project, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is testing the use of CLASS combined with a more subject-specific assessment (e.g., in mathematics and language arts).

MEASUREMENT SYSTEMS

Three measurement systems are needed to assess teaching practice: 1) observations of classroom practice for use in periodic formal teacher evaluation, 2) teaching "work samples" or performance assessments for such decisions as granting tenure or movement on a career ladder, and 3) classroom walk-throughs that provide information for everyday performance management. All three are needed to ensure complete coverage of important competencies and to allow for different uses. …

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