ERIC Identifier: ED429052
Publication Date: 1998-12-00
Author: Weiss, Eileen Mary - Weiss, Stephen Gary
Source: 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, analytic skills.


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 teaching:

1. Teachers are committed to students and their learning;

2. Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students;

3.Teachers are responsible for managing and mentoring student learning;

4. Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience;

5. 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.


As 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 evaluation programs.

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 (Darling-Hammond, 1997).

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).

Brandt, R. (1996). On a new direction for teacher evaluation. EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP, 53(6), 30-33. EJ 519 774

Brophy, J. E., & Good, T. L. (1986). Teacher behavior and student achievement. In M. C. Wittrock (Ed.), HANDBOOK OF RESEARCH ON TEACHING (pp. 328-376). New York: Macmillan. ED 251 422

Career in Teaching Joint Governing Panel. (1996). CAREER IN TEACHING. PART AND SUMMATIVE APPRAISAL GUIDEBOOK. Rochester, NY: Rochester City School District.

Columbus Education Association. (1997). PEER ASSISTANCE AND REVIEW. Columbus, OH: Author.

Darling-Hammond, L. (1996). What matters most: A competent teacher for every child. PHI DELTA KAPPAN, 78(3), 193-200. EJ 534 071

Darling-Hammond, L. (1997). DOING WHAT MATTERS MOST: INVESTING IN QUALITY TEACHING. New York: National Commission on Teaching & America's Future. ED 415 183

Dewey, J. (1900 and 1902/1990). THE SCHOOL AND SOCIETY AND THE CHILD AND THE CURRICULUM. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Eisner, E. W. (1992). Educational reform and the ecology of schooling. TEACHERS COLLEGE RECORD, 93(4), 610-627.

Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium [INTASC]. (1992). MODEL STANDARDS FOR BEGINNING TEACHER LICENSING AND DEVELOPMENT. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers. ED 369 767

Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium [INTASC], Mathematics Sub-Committee. (1995). MODEL STANDARDS IN MATHEMATICS FOR BEGINNING TEACHER LICENSING AND DEVELOPMENT. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers.

Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium [INTASC]. (1996). THE INTASC PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT DEVELOPMENT PROJECT. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers.

Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium [INTASC]. (n.d.). NEXT STEPS: MOVING TOWARD PERFORMANCE-BASED LICENSING IN TEACHING. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers.

McLaughlin, M. W. (1990). Embracing contraries: Implementing and sustaining teacher evaluation. In J. Millman & L. Darling-Hammond (Eds.), THE NEW HANDBOOK OF TEACHER EVALUATION (pp. 403-415). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

National Commission on Teaching & America's Future. (1996). WHAT MATTERS MOST: TEACHING FOR AMERICA'S FUTURE. New York: Author. ED 395 931

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. (1989). TOWARD HIGH AND RIGOROUS STANDARDS FOR THE TEACHING PROFESSION. Detroit: Author.

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. (n.d.). AN INVITATION TO NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFICATION 1997-1998. Southfield, MI: Author.

Peterson, K. (1990). Assistance and assessment for beginning teachers. In J. Millman & L. Darling-Hammond (Eds.), THE NEW HANDBOOK OF TEACHER EVALUATION (pp. 104-115). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Sclan, E. M. (1994). PERFORMANCE EVALUATION FOR EXPERIENCED TEACHERS: AN OVERVIEW OF STATE POLICIES. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education. ED 373 054

Searfoss, L. W., & Enz, B. J. (1996). Can teacher evaluation reflect holistic instruction? EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP, 53(6), 38-41. EJ 519 776


Wise, A. E., Darling-Hammond, L., McLaughlin, M. W., & Bernstein, H. T. (1984). CASE STUDIES FOR TEACHER EVALUATION. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corp. ED 251 952

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