Teacher Evaluation Methods for Effective Quality Teaching

Design the best teacher evaluation system for your school

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Published January 27th, 2021

What is Teacher Evaluation?

Teacher evaluation is the standardized process of rating and assessing the teaching effectiveness of educators. Teacher performance evaluations aim to help promote a better learning experience for students and foster professional growth for educators.

This article will discuss the following:

Importance of Teacher Evaluation

Teacher evaluation can be an opportunity for genuine professional learning. When organized around clearly established and accepted standards of practice, teacher evaluation offers an opportunity for educators to reflect seriously on their practice, and promote learning.” – Charlotte Danielson, The Handbook for Enhancing Professional Practice

Charlotte Danielson, a curriculum director and administrator, believes that teacher evaluation should be student-focused or linked to classroom performance rather than solely observing the teacher. Evaluations help teachers:

  • Align their goals with the school’s vision and mission
  • Engage in professional learning programs
  • Upgrade skills along with educational improvements
  • Monitor the students’ learning more effectively
  • Reflect or do self-evaluations

How to Evaluate a Teacher in 5 Steps

Traditionally, teacher evaluation is conducted by a principal, department head, or teacher evaluator who observes how a teacher handles a class with the help of checklists. Other factors like assessments, lesson plans, daily records, and student outputs are also taken into account. In addition to classroom handling and student outputs, active participation and engagement from both the students and faculty members should also be considered.

Here are 5 recommended steps to make your teacher evaluation a successful one:

Step 1: Be the Right Evaluator

According to Danielson, the most important part of the teacher evaluation framework is the 3rd domain “Instruction.” Students should be intellectually involved in the learning process through activities. As you go along with the evaluation, remember to make unbiased, accurate, and consistent judgments based on the learning evidence.

Step 2: Engage Teacher Leaders

The success of learning is a product of a collaborative effort. All teacher leaders should be actively involved in the process of improving teaching practices. Conduct training and discuss the importance of doing teacher evaluation. By doing this, you will gain the teachers’ buy in and they will understand that evaluations are performed to help them and not to criticize them.

Step 3: Go Beyond Just Observing

An effective teacher evaluator should be able to see how students are learning and not just look at what the teacher is doing. Take note of how students interact with the teacher during recitations and group discussions. Is it an active and fun learning atmosphere? How do students react? Do they get passing scores during assessments? Ideally, conduct formal and informal observations to assess if the teacher is student-centered in teaching.

Step 4: Reflect with the Teacher

Allot some time to sit and talk with the teacher during your post conference. Listen attentively as you encourage teachers to do a self-evaluation. This approach can help educators realize their strengths and weaknesses on their own and prepare them for future promotions and accreditations. Ask them about their daily teaching routine and if there were changes along the way. Talk about their struggles and feel free to give some recommendations on how they can cope with challenges. Most importantly, always acknowledge educators on a job well done and recognize their eagerness to improve.

Step 5: Share Best Practices

A good evaluator is a great mentor. Provide the teacher your rating and raise some points you would like to discuss. Be honest by telling them their level of proficiency. New teachers who may have limited teaching experience may need more guidance. As a mentor, you can help them understand their challenges and give some tips on how to overcome those challenges. Focus on areas where the teacher could do better. Encourage them to perform student surveys to determine where in the curriculum their students are struggling. Share your best practices by developing strategies for good classroom instructions. Finally, end the session with a good development plan.

There is more in the classroom observation process to make teacher evaluations not just a school policy adherence but rather a meaningful experience for the teachers, administrators and students. As an evaluator, your role will have a huge impact in helping educators step up their quality of teaching and improve student learning.

What are the Components of Teacher Evaluation?

Designing a teacher evaluation system takes up a lot of work and implementation can be a tricky process. However, before going in-depth on specific teacher evaluation systems, here are some general components from the American Institutes for Research (AIR) Center on Great Teachers & Leaders (GTL Center):

Component 1a: Evaluation System Goals

The GTL Center recommends refraining from designing teacher evaluation systems exclusively for accountability, as they are less likely to have impact on teacher practice. However, if accountability is the primary goal, with the outcome of the teacher evaluation system being the basis for personnel and compensation decisions, it is critical to establish valid and reliable measures of teacher effectiveness.

Guiding Questions for Specifying Evaluation System Goals:

  • What type of impact do stakeholders hope to achieve (e.g., better teacher retention, improved student test scores, increased teacher capacity)?
  • Are the goals explicit, well-defined, and clearly articulated for stakeholders?
  • How will efforts in teacher evaluation affect other quality initiatives (e.g., curriculum, professional learning, certification)?

Component 1b: Establishing Standards

Teaching standards are derived from definitions of teaching effectiveness. While this may be different for each school, teacher, or class, the GTL Center Definition states that effective teachers:

  • have high expectations for all students and help students learn, as measured by value-added or other test-based growth measures
  • contribute to positive academic, attitudinal, and social outcomes for students such as regular attendance, on-time promotion to the next grade, on-time graduation, self-efficacy, and cooperative behavior 
  • use diverse resources to plan and structure engaging learning opportunities; monitor student progress formatively, adapting instruction as needed; and evaluate learning using multiple sources of evidence
  • collaborate with other teachers, administrators, parents, and education professionals to ensure student success, particularly the success of students with special needs and those at high risk for failure

As for teaching standards, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and its Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) have 10 core teaching standards:

  1. Learner Development 
  2. Learning Differences 
  3. Learning Environments
  4. Content Knowledge 
  5. Application of Content 
  6. Assessment
  7. Planning for Instruction
  8. Instructional Strategies
  9. Professional Learning and Ethical Practice
  10. Leadership and Collaboration

Component 2: Securing and Sustaining Stakeholder Investment, and Cultivating a Strategic Communication Plan

Stakeholder approval is a key factor in ensuring the success of a teacher evaluation system. Aside from teachers, other stakeholders that should be included in the design and implementation process are school board members, superintendents, school principals, teacher preparation programs, parents, and students. 

Component 3: Selecting Measures

Measures are the medium through which the teacher evaluation will be conducted. The GTL Center recommends selecting multiple measures such as:

  • Classroom Observation – used to measure observable classroom processes, including specific teacher practices, holistic aspects of instruction, and interactions between teachers and students
  • Principal Evaluation – based on classroom observation and used for summative purposes, most commonly for tenure or dismissal decisions for new teachers
  • Instruction Artifact – structured protocols used to analyze classroom artifacts such as lesson plans, assignments, scoring rubrics, and student work
  • Student Survey – used to gather student opinions about teaching practice
  • Value-Added Model – used to determine contributions to test score gains

When selecting measures, consider these 4 factors:

  1. Evaluation System’s Purpose 
  2. Strength of Measures 
  3. Application to All Teaching Contexts and Student Populations
  4. Human and Resource Capacity

Component 4: Determining the Structure of the Evaluation System

The structure of a teacher evaluation system should be based on the designated levels of teacher performance (e.g., developing, proficient, exemplary) and the frequency of evaluations, which is different for each measure. Moreover, the weight or percentage of each measure in relation to the overall teacher rating will affect how the teacher evaluation system should be structured.

Component 5: Selecting and Training Evaluators

While Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching is designed to evaluate all teachers without regard to content area, trained evaluators with knowledge of specialist roles and subject-matter competence may be seen as more credible. Selecting the right evaluators and providing the required training for the deployment of specific measures ensure that the implementation of the system closely aligns with its design.

Guiding Questions for Selecting and Training Evaluators:

  • What criteria will be used to select evaluators?
  • Who will be eligible to conduct the evaluations?
  • Could teacher-to-teacher evaluations be considered?
  • Will specialized training for the evaluation of specific content/specialty area teachers be provided?
  • Will examples and explicit guidance in determining levels of proficiency and approval be provided?

Component 6: Data Integrity and Transparency

The collection, validation, interpretation, tracking, and communication of teacher performance data can be accomplished by building a sound data infrastructure. Since this requires significant data expertise, collaboration between teachers and information technology personnel is essential.

Component 7: Using Teacher Evaluation Results

Whether the goal of the system is to make teachers accountable for their performance or to help them learn and improve, there has to be a plan for what will happen after an evaluation. If teacher evaluation results are to be used for personnel decisions, the GTL Center recommends selecting trigger points for actions. This provides clarity on questions such as:

  • How many high ratings or positive evaluations are needed for promotion?
  • How many low ratings or negative evaluations are needed for dismissal?
  • Will teachers identified as ineffective have sufficient opportunities and support to perform the corrective actions suggested in their evaluation?

For teacher evaluation systems focused on professional development and learning, the following questions may help in determining how best to support teacher growth:

  • Can teacher evaluation results be used to identify teachers for roles such as mentor teachers, master teachers, and consulting teachers?
  • What human and fiscal resources can be used to support job-embedded professional development?
  • Can application and reflection be built into professional learning activities?

Specific Teacher Evaluation Systems

Though these teacher evaluation systems were created with particular contexts/regions in mind, they can still be adapted to the needs of the learning institution, or be used as examples when designing a new system.

TEAM

TEAM (Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model) incorporates frequent observation, constructive feedback, student data, and professional development. The goal of this system is to help educators continuously improve their practice. Its general educator rubric has the following components:

  • Instructional Plans – with measurable and explicit goals aligned to standards
  • Student Work – assignments require students to analyze information
  • Assessment – measure student performance in more than three ways
  • Expectations – encourages students to learn from their mistakes
  • Managing Student Behavior – attends to disruptions quickly and firmly
  • Environment – arranged to promote individual and group learning
  • Respectful Culture – students exhibit caring and respect for one another
  • Standards and Objectives – learning objectives are clearly communicated
  • Motivating Students – learning experiences value curiosity and exploration
  • Presenting Instructional Content – no irrelevant or confusing information
  • Lesson Structure and Pacing – no instructional time is lost during transitions
  • Activities and Materials – activities demand complex thinking and analysis
  • Questioning – questions regularly assess and advance student understanding
  • Academic Feedback – frequently given, high-quality, and references expectations
  • Grouping Students – students know their roles and responsibilities in group works
  • Teacher Content Knowledge – uses subject-specific instructional strategies
  • Teacher Knowledge of Students – understanding of student’s learning difficulties
  • Thinking – teaches two or more types of thinking (analytical, practical, creative)
  • Problem-Solving – activities reinforce three or more problem-solving types

RISE

RISE (Research-based Inclusive System of Evaluation) was developed in 2008 by Pittsburgh public school teachers and uses Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching. RISE is a growth-oriented model involving multiple observations and teacher self-assessments throughout the year. It has 12 components divided into 4 domains:

Domain 1: Planning and Preparation

  • Demonstrating knowledge of students
  • Setting instructional outcomes

Domain 2: Classroom Environment

  • Establishing a culture for learning
  • Managing student behavior

Domain 3: Teaching and Learning

  • Using questioning and discussion techniques
  • Engaging students in learning
  • Using assessment to inform instruction
  • Assessment results and student learning
  • Implementing lessons equitably

Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities

  • Reflecting on teaching and student learning
  • System for managing student data
  • Communicating with families

LEAP

LEAP (Leading Effective Academic Practice) was created by Denver public school teachers to measure teacher effectiveness with the goal of ensuring an excellent teacher in every classroom with support from highly effective school leaders. LEAP uses multiple measures of teacher performance such as observation, professionalism, Student Perception Survey (SPS), and student growth.

RIIC 

Like RISE, the RIIC (Rhode Island Innovation Consortium) Evaluation System is adapted from Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching. Aside from impact on student growth and achievement, the RIIC Evaluation System relies on other measures of educator effectiveness, such as these 4 standards:

Standard 1: Planning and Preparation

  • Demonstrating Knowledge of Content & Students
  • Establishing Instructional Outcomes
  • Designing Coherent Instruction
  • Designing Student Assessment

Standard 2: The Classroom Environment

  • Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport
  • Establishing a Culture for Learning
  • Managing Classroom Procedures
  • Managing Student Behavior

Standard 3: Professional Growth & Responsibilities

  • Reflecting on Teaching
  • Communicating with Families
  • Showing Professionalism
  • Growing and Developing Professionally

OTES

OTES (Ohio Teacher Evaluation System) was created in response to House Bill 1 in 2009, which directed the Educator Standards Board to recommend model evaluation systems for teachers and principals. OTES uses formal observations, classroom walkthroughs, and a teacher performance evaluation rubric with 3 sections:

  • Instructional Planning – focus for learning and prior content knowledge
  • Instruction and Assessment – lesson delivery and classroom environment
  • Professionalism – professional responsibilities, goals, and self-assessment

iAuditor: Teaching Evaluation Tool

Performing teacher evaluations requires a handful of paperwork and documentation. iAuditor by SafetyCulture is the world’s most powerful tool you can use to conduct more meaningful, accurate, and comprehensive teacher evaluations. 

 

Author

Erick Brent Francisco

SafetyCulture staff writer

As a staff writer for SafetyCulture, Erick is interested in learning and sharing how technology can improve work processes and workplace safety. Prior to SafetyCulture, Erick worked in logistics, banking and financial services, and retail.