A report released by the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education advances the discussion about quality teacher evaluations and professional development within the greater context of a continuous learning system. Creating a Comprehensive System for Evaluating and Supporting Effective Teaching by Linda Darling-Hammond, argues for a high-quality teaching and student learning system that doesn’t simply focus on arbitrary value-added measures; rather, it follows these three objectives: (1) Supports all stages of teaching, (2) Relates seamlessly what teachers do in the classroom and how they are prepared and assessed, and (3) Develops teaching contexts that facilitate good practice in addition to identifying and rewarding effective teachers.

There are seven criteria necessary to achieve these goals:

  1. Teacher evaluation should be based on professional teaching standards and support development from beginning teacher to expert teacher,
  2. Evaluations should include multi-faceted evidence of teacher practice, student learning, and professional contributions,
  3. Evaluators should be knowledgeable about instruction and well trained in the evaluation system,
  4. Evaluation should be accompanied by useful feedback, and connected to professional development opportunities,
  5. The evaluation system should value and encourage teacher collaboration,
  6. Expert teachers should be part of the assistance and review process for new teachers, and
  7. Panels of teachers and administrators should oversee the evaluation process to ensure that it is fair, reliable, and of high quality.

These seven criteria create a cyclical system based on constant support and development. The feedback loop develops the best standards and teaching practices, supports administrators to be trained in observation and feedback, and supports professional development opportunities to help teachers explore new teaching practices. This constantly-churning system of communication and feedback can develop the best standards and teaching practices.

Although the Buckeye State has started down the path to quality teacher evaluations, there is still much work to be done. This report suggests a construct for high-quality teaching evaluation and professional development—and professional development matters: Less than 14 hours of teacher professional development a year on a topic had no effect on student learning. Yet, high-quality programs with 50 hours over a 6 to 12 month period increased student achievement by 21 percentage points on average.

                 Creating a Comprehensive System for Evaluating and Supporting Effective Teaching
Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education
Linda Darling-Hammond

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