ERIC Identifier: ED278657
Publication Date: 1986-00-00
Author: Barrett, Joan
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Teacher Education Washington DC.
The Evaluation of Teachers. ERIC Digest 12.
The public views teacher evaluation as a major problem in the school
system today (Soar and others, 1983). State legislatures, aware of the concern,
want to mandate more effective evaluation. Common methods for evaluating
teachers, such as measurement tests of teacher characteristics, student
achievement test scores, and ratings of teachers' classroom performance, have
been ineffective. Some research has been done to improve the evaluation process,
but teacher assessment, in general, remains unorganized. This digest provides
information about evaluation types, criteria, methods, procedure, and successful
TYPES OF EVALUATION
Darling-Hammond and others (1983) define teacher evaluation as "collecting
and using information to judge." Two evaluation types exist: formative and
summative. Formative evaluation is a tool used to improve instruction. Summative
evaluation is a tool used to make personnel decisions. Both evaluation uses have
received much attention in recent literature as the teaching profession
considers evaluation an integral part of staff development and the
administration looks to evaluation data as evidence in accountability debates.
THE ISSUE OF CRITERIA
The developmental problems of teacher evaluation programs begin with the
fundamental consideration: evaluation of what? Criteria used to determine
teacher quality would seem to center on the teaching/learning/assessment cycle.
Yet the teaching methods and techniques of a mathematics teacher differ from
those of a music or English teacher. Are there generic characteristics peculiar
to all "good" teachers?
The fundamental obstacle to professional agreement is that everyone - parent,
administrator, legislator, and teacher - purports to know exactly what a good
teacher is. Each eagerly describes this teacher in great, but mostly subjective,
detail (Soar and others, 1983). Evaluation criteria must be measurable. The
current literature generally agrees that "good" means "effective." A good
teacher teaches; students, in response, learn. But there are serious
disadvantages in evaluating teachers by their students' achievement; these
disadvantages are discussed in the Evaluation Methods section.
Criteria for evaluation must include intangible and tangible teaching aspects
(Darling-Hammond and others, 1983; Wise and others, 1984; Woolever, 1985).
Intangible aspects include student rapport and social responsibility while
tangible aspects comprise well-written lesson plans and test scores. The wide
range of suggested criteria for evaluating teachers has resulted in numerous
methods designed to quantify those criteria.
The most important characteristic for any successful evaluation method is
validity - whether a test or procedure measures what it purports to measure. It
becomes inappropriate, meaningless, and useless to make specific inferences from
invalid measurements. Evidence of validity must be accumulated to support
inferences made from evaluation results.
Successful evaluation methods also must be reliable, effective, and efficient
(Wise and others, 1984). Reliability means consistency - an evaluation always
must give similar scores, ranking, or ratings for similiar tests, regardless of
the evaluator or the evaluated. Effectiveness implies that the evaluation
provides results in their most useful format. Summative evaluation yields a
teacher performance score or rank that does not have to be interpreted to be
used for accountability. Formative evaluation initiates the improvement of weak
areas. Efficiency refers to spending time and money for evaluation training,
materials, and procedure to ensure the desired results.
Present evaluation programs consist of varying combinations of the following
components. (Strengths and weaknesses accompany the descriptions.)
Teacher interview. This one-to-one conference is used to hire new teachers
and communicate evaluation results to experienced teachers. An updated,
formalized version, the Teacher Perceiver Interview, reduces possibe interviewer
bias. An interview disadvantage is the low correlation between highly rated
interviews and subsequent evaluations of teacher effectiveness (Darling-Hammond
and others, 1983).
Competency Testing. The National Teachers Examination (NTE) is an example of
competency testing. Used for initial certification and hiring decisions, the
disadvantage lies in its degree of validity. Most studies of NTE results and
evaluations of teacher performance show low correlation. No test has been
developed to measure a teacher's professional commitment, maturation of
decision-making ability, and social responsibility - all important criteria for
effective teaching and learning (Soar and others, 1983). Test proponents,
however, maintain that examinations guarantee a basic knowledge level, eliminate
interviewer bias, and are legally defensible (Darling-Hammond and others, 1983).
Classroom Observation. This is the most popular evaluation method, usually
performed annually by school administrators for experienced teachers and more
frequently for beginning teachers. Observation reveals information about such
things as teacher interaction and rapport with pupils that is unavailable from
other sources. Research criticizes the technique, however, as potentially
biased, invalid, and unreliable (Darling-Hammond and others, 1983).
Student Ratings. Using student ratings in teacher evaluation has been
restricted to higher education, although student input has been collected
informally in middle and secondary schools. This method is inexpensive, and has
a high degree of reliability, but questions of validity and bias remain
(Darling-Hammond and others, 1983)
Peer Review. Teaching colleagues observe each other's classroom and examine
lesson plans, tests, and graded assignments. Peer review examines a wider scope
of teaching activities than other methods. Disadvantages include time
consumption and possible peer conflict. Formative application features may
justify the time demands and minimize sources of tension (Barber and Klein,
1983; Elliot and Chidley, 1985).
Student Achievement. Nationally standardized student achievement examinations
often are used to evaluate teachers and school systems by ranking the student,
class, and school according to national norms. Research shows that under certain
conditions test scores are positively correlated with teacher behavior
(Woolever, 1985). But scores also depend on inherent student qualities, such as
I.Q., which are independent of teacher influence (Darling-Hammond and others,
Faculty Self-Evaluation. This method usually supplements more formal
evaluation methods and is used with other data to identify weak areas of
instruction and classroom management skills. It serves as an important source of
information for staff development, but is unsuitable for accountability
decisions (Darling-Hammond and others, 1983).
Indirect Measures. Other "good teacher" descriptors have been examined to
determine if they correlate with student achievement. These descriptors include
enthusiasm, humor, judgment, objectivity, and punctuality (Drake, 1984).
Research has found a relationship between teacher flexibility and effectiveness,
and some teacher characteristics appear to be more effective in some classroom
situations than in others. But these findings have not been used in teacher
evaluation (Darling-Hammond andothers, 1983).
Literature exists to support all evaluation methods. Coker (1985) observes
that the lack of consensus about evaluation issues represents the lack of
knowledge about effective teaching and measurement technology. He further
suggests that this knowledge can be acquired through studying the data now
generated by valid and reliable methods.
THE EVALUATION PROCEDURE
If school districts refine procedures to improve validity and reliability,
the effective evaluation should occur (Wise and others, 1984). Successful
evaluation procedures begin with a definition of teaching expectations and end
with an examination of evaluation results and implications. Formative
evaluations include a staff development component to complete the program of
assessment and improvement.
The major impediment to procedural development is that schools follow lines
of least resistance in developing any new procedure (Darling-Hammond, 1983).
Schools often consider the perfect evaluation system to be one that gathers all
necessary data quickly, offends no one, and differs little from an unacceptable
system used the previous year. Despite this resistance to change, some progress
toward developing and implementing innovative and workable evaluation programs
ELEMENTS OF SUCCESS
Wise and others (1984) studied 32 school districts and found four - Salt Lake
City, Utah; Lake Washington, Washington; Greenwich, Connecticut; and Toledo,
Ohio - to have markedly more successful evaluation programs than the others.
These researchers concluded that the following strategies can help in
implementing an effective evaluation program.
1. Evaluation procedures must address local needs, standards, and norms.
2. Procedures must be consistent with the stated purposes for evaluation.
3. School districts must make a commitment of time and resources.
4. Resources must be used efficiently to achieve reliability, validity, and
5. Teachers should be involved in developing evaluation procedures.
Drake (1984) stresses that an effective evaluation program needs trained
evaluators, administrative staff allocated for evaluation time, a staff
development program for teachers, and teacher involvement in the evaluation
process. Elliott and Chidley's 1985 study of an experimental peer review program
found the project's success depended on teacher participation in program design,
administrator interest, teacher release-time for planning, clearly stated
objectives, and participants sharing information. But despite the considerable
published research on teacher evaluation, the scarcity of successful programs
indicates much work remains to be done.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Barber, L. W., and K. Klein. "Merit Pay and Teacher Evaluation." PHI DELTA
KAPPAN 65, 4 (December 1983): 247-251.
Coker, H. "Consortium for the Improvement of Teacher Education." JOURNAL OF
TEACHER EDUCATION 36, 2 (March-April 1985):12-17.
Darling-Hammond, L., and others. "Teacher Evaluation in the Organizational
Context: A Review of the Literature." REVIEW OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH 53, 3 (Fall
Drake, J. M. "Improving Teacher Performance through Evaluation and
Supervision." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association
of Secondary School Principals, February 1984. ED 250 782.
Elliot, J., and L. Chidley. "Peer Review As a Supervisory Option." JOURNAL OF
STAFF DEVELOPMENT 6, 2 (October 1985):102-107.
Soar, R. S., and others. "Teacher Evaluation: A Critique of Currently Used
Methods." PHI DELTA KAPPAN 64, 4 (1983): 239-246.
Wise, A. E., and others. "Teacher Evaluation, A Study of Effective
Practices." Rand Series. Report NIE# R-3139-NIE, June 1984: 84pp.
Woolever, R. "State Mandated Performance Evaluation of Beginning Teacher
Educators." JOURNAL OF TEACHER EDUCATION 36, 2 (March-April 1985):22-25.