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Leading via Teacher Evaluation: The Case of the Missing Clothes?

Issue/Topic: Teaching Quality--Evaluation and Effectiveness
Author(s): Hallinger, Philip; Murphy, Joseph; Heck, Ronald
Publication: Educational Researcher
Published On: 2013

Background:
Over the last two decades, considerable evidence has accumulated about the cardinal position of teachers and teaching in the school improvement equation. Simultaneously, a new era of accountability in education began to take root in the 1990s. Not surprisingly, efforts to strengthen teaching have since been on the rise. A good portion of that energy is being devoted to teacher evaluations that hold individual teachers accountable for year-to-year gains in their students' achievement.

Purpose:
To determine whether teacher evaluation is a good candidate to power school improvement and enhance student learning

Findings/Results:
We should be cautious in accepting claims about the ability of teacher evaluation, even in its newest form, to power significant school improvement or effectively inform personnel decisions.

  • The effects of teacher evaluations on various school improvement variables such as instructional leaderships, comprehensive school reform, achievement gaps/at-risk students, or teacher effects are conspicuous in their absence.

  • Organizational dynamics of schooling further hinder the potential effects of teacher evaluations.
    • Managers, by and large, are not qualified to do the work. School leaders are often not perceived by teachers as credible sources of knowledge on instructional issues.
    • Managers often lack the appetite to do the work. Principals require the support of teachers and they know that a powerful way to garner that support is to provide teachers with autonomy over their individual classrooms.
    • Managers have little time to do the work. An average principal spends 80 minutes a week on teacher evaluation, about 3 minutes per teacher per week.

  • To date, evidence from teacher evaluation systems has yet to meet the necessary standard for making accurate and equitable high stakes personnel decisions for individual teachers. Concerns are centered around:
    • The stability of value-added measure teacher estimates across subject, grade levels, and time;
    • The present capacity of school administrators to produce valid evaluations when employing new tools without extensive training; and
    • The efficacy of teacher evaluation to yield improvements in teaching practice.

Policy Implications/Recommendations:

  • If school improvement is the goal, school leaders would be advised to spend their time and energy in areas other than teacher evaluation. Many leader initiatives can positively impact student achievement even if instructional quality remains unchanged, i.e., through actions that substitute for and/or enhance teaching.

  • School administrators will be more likely to positively impact instructional quality if they allocate their direct efforts with teachers into facilitative channels, an approach with considerably more empirical linkage to learning outcomes than direct one-on-one teacher evaluation work. Actions would include:
    • Providing actionable feedback to teachers;
    • Developing communities of practice in which teachers share goals, work, and responsibility for student outcomes;
    • Offering abundant support for the work of teachers; and
    • Creating systems in which teachers have the opportunity to routinely develop and refine their skills.

Full text can be purchased here: http://edr.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/07/30/0013189X13499625.full.pdf


Research Design:
literature review

Population/Participants/Subjects:
literature review

Year data is from:
N/A

Setting:
National

Data Collection and Analysis:
Literature review

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