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Report Highlights Changes in Teacher Evaluation Systems

New teacher evaluation systems do a better job of boosting instructional effectiveness and linking teachers to individual student performance, according to a report released this week by the National School Boards Association's (NSBA) Center for Public Education (CPE).

Trends in Teacher Evaluation: How States are Measuring Teacher Performance reveals the changes that states are making in their teacher assessment processes and how they're using evaluation data to inform personnel decisions and teacher improvement.

According to the report, a growing number of states are relying on state standardized test scores to measure teacher effectiveness, though these scores represent only part of a teacher's evaluation.

"No state evaluates teachers on state test scores alone," said Jim Hull, author of the report and senior policy analyst at CPE, in a teleconference Wednesday with reporters. Hull acknowledged the controversy around using test scores as a metric for instructional effectiveness. Standardized test scores, he said, account for no more than 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation.

"No state requires individual student achievement measures to account for more than half a teacher's overall evaluation," Hull emphasized. Furthermore, he stated, for those states that allow teacher evaluation to be based, in part, on student achievement, test scores are only one measure of performance. Other common measures of student achievement include student learning objectives (SLO), formative assessment, and district- and teacher-developed assessments.

The move to overhaul teacher evaluation systems was prompted largely by federal programs, including No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, which awarded states for restructuring their evaluation practices. The new systems feature processes developed based on input from multiple stakeholders, including teachers, parents, and school board members; various methods for measuring of teachers effectiveness; and data that connects teacher and student performance.

While it's too early to determine the impact of these new systems on teacher practices and effectiveness, Hull states they're a step in the right direction, a vast improvement over previous methods.

"New models of teacher evaluation can help improve instructional quality and provide teachers with added support and additional resources," said Hull, in a prepared statement. "Most states have done a good job of vastly improving teacher evaluation systems by listening to the experts and relying on a wider range of criteria, such as classroom observation and student performance data. Interestingly, these evaluations are often used to help all teachers improve their skills, not just as a tool to identify and replace ineffective teachers."

The report also includes direction on developing and implementing teacher evaluation systems. The entire report can be downloaded from CPE's Web site.

About the Author

Kanoe Namahoe is online editor for 1105 Media's Education Group. She can be reached at knamahoe@1105media.com.

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