Once achievement data arrived on the scene, evaluations based purely on observation were largely replaced by value-added models. Observations alone were seen as too subjective and inconsistent compared with the objectivity of test data.
However, value-added evaluation models have their own limitations. They rely heavily on a single aspect of student learning—the ability to excel on standardized tests, which can create an incentive for teachers to simply “teach to the test.”
Value-added models also are limited in their ability to consider fluctuations across classes and across years or to take into account a variety of external factors, such as a student’s ability and willingness to learn or a student’s family life.
That’s why many school districts are adopting multiple-measure teacher evaluation models. Multiple-measure models still utilize the student achievement data central to a value-added model, but they pair that data with a variety of other assessment tools, including:
- Classroom observations. Observations conducted by multiple reviewers at multiple times allows for a truer snapshot of a teacher’s classroom performance.
- Parent surveys. This promotes community inclusion and helps administrators determine parents’ perception of a teacher’s quality based on their own interactions.
- Student surveys. When conducted anonymously, student surveys have been shown to be a surprisingly accurate gauge of teacher performance.
- Portfolios. Examples of a teacher’s work, such curriculum that has been written or a program that has been implemented, should be included.
- Administrator reports. This is a standard evaluation component that considers the administrator’s own observations of the teacher’s overall performance.
- Peer reviews. In some cases, peer reviews can be a helpful way to determine how well teachers work together in teams.
It’s true that many of these assessment tools—such as the parent surveys and administrator reports—are subjective. However, when you merge them together and add in student achievement data, many districts have found that a more accurate and vivid picture of a teacher’s performance starts to emerge.
Perhaps the biggest roadblock for districts to implement a multiple-measure model is that such models are, of course, a significant commitment in terms of time and resources. Creating and launching this type of model is a complex undertaking.
The payoff, though, is that teachers receive valuable on-going and timely feedback about the areas in which they excel and the areas that need improvement, ultimately leading to better teaching and higher student achievement.