ERIC Identifier: ED429052
Publication Date: 1998-12-00
Author: Weiss, Eileen Mary - Weiss, Stephen Gary
ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education Washington DC.
New Directions in Teacher Evaluation. ERIC Digest.
Principals and teachers are becoming frustrated with conventional evaluation
practices typically used to determine teacher effectiveness and, thus, tenure
and promotion (Brandt, 1996). These evaluation practices stress accountability
and frequently are based upon teacher-directed models of learning such as
lecture, demonstration, recitation, and modeling designed primarily to transmit
knowledge and cognitive skills to students. Such evaluations often emphasize
criteria derived from studies in the 1980s in which specific teaching behaviors
in a direct instruction format predict high scores on standardized tests (Brophy
& Good, 1986). Principals often use minimal teaching competencies
(associated with direct instruction) as criteria to judge teachers' performance
(Sclan, 1994). These evaluation procedures risk becoming meaningless exercises
for the majority of teachers who are already performing at or beyond the minimal
level (McLaughlin, 1990; Searfoss & Enz, 1996).
Traditional summative evaluation models are not necessarily structured to
support dynamic, regenerative school environments. Evaluation procedures that
focus on complying with regimented sets of behaviors do not encourage teacher
involvement in their self-development or in the development of collaborative
school cultures. New systems that include evaluation as an authentic part of
teachers' everyday practice, with supports for regular reflection, are naturally
taking root, as hierarchical controlling structures give way to environments
that sustain collegial interactions (Sclan, 1994).
During the last decade, an increasing number of teachers have been developing
multi-dimensional, integrated learning environments where knowledge "depends on
the values of the persons working with it and the context within which that work
[is] conducted" (Lotto & Murphy, 1990, p.82, cited in Sclan, 1994).
Consistent with the goals of education for students to become life-long learners
and thoughtful decision-makers in our democratic society, "constructivist"
perspectives view schools as diverse learning communities where teachers must
possess a broad repertoire of skills and knowledge consistent with the holistic
needs of students (Dewey, 1900 and 1902/1990). Direct instruction is only one of
many useful teaching strategies; however, it underlies traditional evaluation
models, which are too narrow for assessing the performance of constructivist
teachers or enhancing their practice.
Administrators and teachers need access to comprehensive evaluation models
that capture the complexities of teaching. Congruent with an expanding knowledge
base of teaching and learning, performance standards are being developed that
lead to reconfigured assessment designs requiring an array of reflective,
NEW ASSESSMENTS CREATED
Creation of the National Board for
Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) in 1987 has promoted discussion of more
meaningful standards for teachers and resulted in developing a performance-based
assessment system to recognize advanced competence among "experienced teachers."
The NBPTS recognizes that students learn by constructing new knowledge built on
prior understandings, and that good teachers deliberate on the interaction of
student strengths and needs as well as learning contexts and content. The
National Commission on Teaching & America's Future (NCTAF), which created a
blueprint for recruiting, preparing, and supporting excellence in all of
America's schools, recommends that the NBPTS's standards become the cornerstone
for teacher evaluation (Darling-Hammond, 1996; NCTAF, 1996). The NBPTS's
assessments help teachers reflect and learn from their practice. They are based
on the following propositions that educators agree are essential to accomplished
Teachers are committed to students and their learning;
Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to
are responsible for managing and mentoring student learning;
Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience;
Teachers are members of learning communities.
A set of model performance-based licensing standards for "new teachers" that
are compatible with the NBPTS's certification standards has been developed by
the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), a program
of the Council of Chief State School Officers. Working in collaboration with
teachers and teacher educators, state licensing officials, National Council for
the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and other stakeholders, INTASC
has created a set of core standards that define the knowledge, dispositions, and
performances essential for all beginning teachers (INTASC, 1992).
Thirty-three states are participating in translating the 10 core standards
into discipline-specific standards in each of the major K-12 content areas.
Eleven of these states are piloting prototype performance assessments (INTASC,
1995, 1996, n.d.). The new assessments are modeled on NBPTS' portfolios, which
include videotapes and analyses of teaching, samples of lessons, assignments,
and student work. Teachers are asked to demonstrate how their teaching relates
to their students' learning. The assessments are also matched with new standards
for each discipline (e.g., the new National Council for Teachers of Mathematics
standards). In the pilot assessments, teachers provide evidence of how they
foster higher-level reasoning and problem-solving skills (NCTAF, 1996).
The NBPTS and INTASC assessments are based on evidence of constructive
practice and evaluate how specific teaching behaviors contribute to particular
students' learning over time (NCTAF, 1996). Using these guidelines, evaluation
becomes part of a reflective process in which teaching is studied on a regular
basis with colleagues for purposes of continual growth, rather than static
formalities determined outside the classroom. A single observation or
principal's report alone provides an incomplete picture of what teachers do
(Peterson, 1990). Teaching needs to be understood dynamically in its multiple
contexts and performance data need to be gathered from diverse sources.
PROMOTING IMPROVEMENT AND REMOVING INCOMPETENT TEACHERS
part of the movement toward more professionally grounded and performance-based
standards for evaluation, several local and state initiatives incorporate peer
review and assistance. These approaches appear to be more effective than
traditional evaluation systems at both improving and letting go of teachers.
American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association locals
have initiated peer review and assistance programs in districts such as
Rochester, New York; Toledo, Columbus, and Cincinnati, Ohio; and Seattle,
Washington (Career in Teaching Joint Governing Panel, 1996; Columbus Education
Association, 1997; NCTAF, 1996; Toledo Federation of Teachers, 1996). Because
these systems rely on teachers having increased opportunities for decision
making and collaboration with colleagues, the process of evaluation becomes an
integral part of everyday practice. Altering the process by which teachers are
evaluated is providing the impetus for deeper structural changes in their
responsibilities. For example, through a rigorous process, a governing panel of
teachers and administrators selects consulting teachers who mentor untenured
teachers and intervene with tenured teachers having difficulty. Along with
increased autonomy comes greater accountability. In each program, standards have
been strengthened for obtaining tenure and remaining in teaching (NCTAF, 1996).
According to NCTAF (1996), the success of peer review and assistance programs
can be attributed to (1) more useful measures of performance, (2) intensive
assistance, and (3) expertise of the consulting teachers who are matched by
subject area and grade level with the teacher being helped.
The Toledo Plan, started in 1981, was the forerunner for current peer
assistance and review programs. Soon after its inception, a Rand report
concluded that "the Toledo innovative approach to teacher evaluation has created
a new dynamic for improvement based on teacher-administrator collaboration in
its public schools" (Wise, Darling-Hammond, McLaughlin, & Bernstein, 1984).
All newly hired teachers (designated as interns) are assigned a consulting
teacher (mentor teacher) by the Intern Board of Review. The process includes
mutual goal setting using classroom observations and follow-up conferences. A
nonprobationary teacher may be assigned intervention when the principal and
union building committee concur. In Toledo, and a similar Cincinnati program,
about one-third of the teachers referred to intervention each year have left
teaching by the end of the year. In each program, more teachers have received
help and improved or have been dismissed than under traditional administrative
Some districts, such as Rochester and Cincinnati, have begun to develop
career paths that associate salary increments with satisfactory performance. In
Rochester's Career in Teaching (CIT) program, teachers who do not meet
professional standards do not receive salary increases and are candidates for
the intervention process. The Rochester system relies on the standards and
portfolio processes that are compatible with NBPTS. The CIT program includes the
Performance Appraisal Review for Teachers (PART), which requires teachers to
reflect on five areas of behavior: pedagogy, content, school quality, home
involvement, and professional development. Tenured teachers select peer
reviewers for their summative appraisal, which is conducted every third year.
New teachers in Rochester are observed 3 times a year by a supervisor
(principal or assistant) for the first 3 years. However, most first-year
teachers participate in the mentor intern program in which they are observed by
a lead teacher. The mentor typically visits the classroom more than 40 times
during the year and attends parent meetings and other professional events with
the intern (T. Gillett, personal communication, March 2, 1998).
Rochester's teacher evaluation system supports a career path with steps from
the initial internship to "residency," to professional teacher status, and
finally to lead teacher status. Tenure is granted only after rigorous evaluation
of performance by administrator and peer review in the first few years of
teaching. Advanced certification from NBPTS may qualify teachers for another
salary step and/or for position of lead teacher (Darling-Hammond, 1996).
Several state-level initiatives are leading reforms in teacher evaluation.
Maine, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota have incorporated the INTASC standards
into their licensing procedures and have encouraged universities to pilot
performance-based assessments using these standards (Darling-Hammond, 1997).
Among the states that are pioneering peer assistance and review, Connecticut has
incorporated the new INTASC standards into its performance-based licensing
system and is developing portfolio assessments modeled on those of NBPTS
Although evaluating and rewarding teacher performance is arguably a local
school or district responsibility, the matter of removing incompetent teachers
has received attention from the federal government. During 1997 and 1998 as the
Congress considered amendments to the Higher Education Act, lawmakers noted the
need for administrators to remove unqualified teachers and included provisions
to allow states to use federal funds to offer teachers professional development
opportunities and to "expeditiously remove incompetent or unqualified teachers"
(Higher Education Amendments of 1998, Title II. Sec. 202(d)(5)).
The next generation of evaluation systems will
further integrate teacher accountability with professional growth. Eisner (1992)
conceives of evaluation as inherently part of teachers' everyday work life.
Evaluation needs to be participatory and reflective in order to be meaningful
for teachers. Reform of teacher evaluation systems is already supporting the
success of broader school reform efforts, which include the requirements of
teachers' evolving roles--the goal of these changes being meaningful learning
experiences for our children.
References identified with an EJ or ED number
have been abstracted and are in the ERIC database. Journal articles (EJ) should
be available at most research libraries; most documents (ED) are available in
microfiche collections at more than 900 locations. Documents can also be ordered
through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (800-443-ERIC).
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