Observations in Teacher Evaluation Systems: A Look at New Research

Observations in Teacher Evaluation Systems: A Look at New Research

At Insight, we work in schools and classrooms across the country and see the impact of high quality teachers every day. Our belief that educator effectiveness is critical to student achievement continues to be confirmed by research, and now we're seeing policy at the federal, state, and district levels shift in response.

According to a new report, Evaluating Teachers with Classroom Observations: Lessons Learned in Four Districts from the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings, the majority of states have required new teacher evaluation systems that incorporate student achievement data. But for many reasons discussed in the report, most districts and schools are still struggling to implement truly effective systems.

We're particularly interested in the authors' call to attention on how classroom observations are conducted and incorporated into evaluations — and the improvements that are needed.

The findings supported that observations can significantly increase the validity and equity of evaluations. However, in order to be truly effective, observations must be both frequent and unbiased—at least three per year, with one or more conducted by an outside observer.

We understand both the importance and challenge of observation, which is why we have dedicated much of our work to developing resources and providing professional development that support school leaders through the design and implementation of effective educator observation systems.

Here is some of the work we're already doing to address the issues highlighted in the report:

    Through our observation and feedback platform,
    ADVANCEfeedback™, coaches in the Los Angeles Unified School have been able to provide the meaningful, actionable feedback that leads to teacher growth and increased student achievement.

  • Newton County, Georgia
    Making the observation and feedback process about growth, rather than “gotcha”, our coaches provide the outside, unbiased feedback called for in this study and continue to improve the practices of teachers in Newton County Schools.
As noted in the report, “A prime motive behind the move towards meaningful teacher evaluation is to assure greater equity in students’ access to good teachers.” We know that high quality evaluation systems yield and retain high quality teachers who make the difference in student achievement.

We're encouraged by the growing body of research that supports the need for effective observation and evaluation systems, and look forward to continuing this important conversation.
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