Teacher Evaluation: An Issue Overview (2023)

Teacher evaluations matter a lot—both to teachers and to those holding them accountable. But how can schools measure the performance of all teachers fairly? And what should they do with the results?

In general, teacher evaluation refers to the formal process a school uses to review and rate teachers’ performance and effectiveness in the classroom. Ideally, the findings from these evaluations are used to provide feedback to teachers and guide their professional development.

While governed by state laws, teacher-evaluation systems are generally designed and operated at the district level, and they vary widely in their details and requirements. Traditionally, teacher evaluation systems relied heavily on classroom observations conducted by principals or other school administrators, sometimes with the help of rubrics or checklists. Samples of students’ work, teachers’ records and lesson plans, and other relevant factors were also often taken into account.

But many evaluation systems have undergone significant changes in recent years. Indeed, by the end of the 2000s, teacher evaluation, long an ignored and obscure policy element, had become one of the most prominent and contentious topics in K-12 education.

That surprise reversal can be attributed to at least four factors: a wave of new research on teacher quality, philanthropic interest in boosting teacher effectiveness, efforts by advocacy groups and policymakers to revamp state laws on evaluation, and political pressure to dismiss poorly performing teachers.

All that momentum aside, the results of recent changes to teacher-evaluation systems are, as yet, difficult to quantify. Most of the new data show that a great majority of teachers score just as highly on the new evaluations as they did on the previous ones, and it is unclear whether the reforms have systematically—or broadly—led to teachers to receiving better feedback that is translating to better teaching.

Why has teacher-performance evaluation become such a central education issue?

Beginning in the 1990s and through the 2000s, analyses of year-to-year student-test data consistently showed that some teachers helped their students learn significantly more than did other teachers. One widely cited paper, by Stanford University economist Eric A. Hanushek, estimated that the top-performing teachers helped students gain more than a grade’s worth of learning; students taught by the worst achieved just half a year of learning.

Advocacy groups argued that current quality-control systems for teachers were ineffectual. In an influential 2009 report, TNTP (formerly the New Teacher Project), found that more than 99 percent of teachers in the 12 districts it studied were ranked satisfactory on evaluations and that the firing of tenured teachers almost never occurred. The analysis suggested that most of the reviews were perfunctory, and did not distinguish between skilled and low-performing teachers.

For some advocates, such findings opened an opportunity to strengthen the profession. Revamping teacher evaluation, they argued, would help to give teachers better information on strengths and weaknesses and help districts tailor ongoing supports. Some policymakers, though, focused more closely on the prospect of identifying and removing bad teachers quickly and efficiently.

Federal intervention gave muscle to the focus on teacher evaluations. Using $4.3 billion provided through the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the U.S. Department of Education began the Race to the Top competition, offering grants to states that agreed to make certain policy changes. Among the prescribed changes was the requirement to develop and implement new teacher-evaluation systems that differentiated among at least three levels of performance and took student achievement into account.

Major philanthropies also helped to fuel activity around teacher evaluation. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for instance, spent some $700 million on teacher-quality initiatives alone, much of it on attempts to set up improved teacher-evaluation systems in a handful of school districts.

Prodded by those incentives, states rushed to rewrite laws governing teacher evaluation.

By 2013, 28 states had moved to require teachers to be evaluated annually, up from 15 in 2009, and 41 states required consideration of student-achievement data, up from 15 in 2009, according to one tally. (Because teacher evaluation remains a state and local priority, all of the policies are drafted at those levels. District collective bargaining agreements can add additional nuances. Consequently, what constitutes, say, a “proficient” teacher in one state may not be the same as in other states, or in the district next door, for that matter.)

As legislators overhauled the systems, some states also took steps to connect the new evaluation systems to other policies, including teacher compensation, promotion, and dismissal.

A 2010 Colorado law, for instance, permits schools to return tenured teachers who receive several poor evaluations to probationary status. Florida’s law requires districts to pay more to teachers who score well on the state’s new evaluations. Rhode Island prohibits a student from being instructed for two consecutive years by a teacher deemed “ineffective.” In other states, evaluation results can be used as evidence for dismissing a tenured teacher for poor performance.

How do the new teacher-evaluation systems work?

The new evaluation systems are far more complex than previously used checklists. They consist of several components, each scored individually. Most of them heavily weigh periodic observations of teachers keyed to teaching standards, such as the well-known Framework for Teaching developed by consultant Charlotte Danielson. Districts and states differ in how frequently they require teachers to be observed, whether the observations must be announced beforehand, and who conducts them.

Policymakers also sought more objective measures in the system because of concerns that personal relationships made it more difficult for principals to grade them accurately. The inclusion of student test scores was a requirement under the federal initiatives, for example.

The most sophisticated approach uses a statistical technique known as a value-added model, which attempts to filter out sources of bias in the test-score growth so as to arrive at an estimate of how much each teacher contributed to student learning. Critics of the approach point to studies showing that the estimates are, in the words of one U.S. Department of Education publication, “subject to a considerable degree of random error.” (States without the capacity to use value-added have adopted simpler—and potentially even more problematic—growth measures.)

States and districts use a predetermined weighting formula to compile results from the components and arrive at a teacher’s final score. Many states initially based half of each teacher’s review on student achievement, but some have scaled back that proportion since.

How have teachers’ unions responded to new evaluations?

By 2011, the governing bodies of both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers had issued new policy statements on teacher evaluation. In general, the teachers’ unions highlighted the potential of better evaluations to provide valuable feedback on teachers’ skills. But they remain wary about connecting the systems to teacher pay and tenure, and adamantly oppose the inclusion of students’ standardized-test scores in the systems.

Teacher Evaluation: An Issue Overview (1)

In challenging the use of value-added models as part of evaluation systems, the teachers’ unions cite concerns about the volatility of test scores in the systems, the fact that some teachers have far more students with special needs or challenging home circumstances than others, and the potential for teachers facing performance pressure to warp instruction in unproductive ways, such as via “test prep.”

They also argue that it is unfair for teachers in nontested subjects to be judged by the scores of students they don’t even teach, as some states’ evaluation systems require. Concerns over the use of test scores in evaluations have fueled more than a dozen lawsuits targeting the new evaluation systems.

The pressure to use students’ standardized-test scores has also contributed to a recent wave of anti-testing sentiment, including the “opt out” movement. And indeed, standardized testing appears to have become more frequent as a result of evaluation pressures. Because only about 15 percent to 30 percent of teachers instruct in grades and subjects in which standardized-test-score data are available, some states and districts have devised or added additional tests.

The new evaluations were also rolled out alongside the Common Core State Standards and related exams, leaving teachers concerned about how the harder tests will affect their performance evaluations in the future. As a result of such concerns, some states, with federal approval, have pushed back the dates for attaching consequences to the reviews.

Is there evidence that new teacher-evaluation strategies are working?

The teachers’ unions also frequently view teacher evaluation as part of a concurrent trend of outright attacks on educators livelihood. Lawmakers, mainly Republicans, have made progress in scaling back collective bargaining rights, “fair share” fee arrangements, and automatic deduction of dues from members’ paychecks. But Democrats, typically champions of labor priorities, have been among the supporters of the new teacher-evaluation systems.

For all the energy spent on putting the new systems into place, the dividends paid by the them aren’t yet clear. A few studies do show some preliminary evidence that teachers who receive high-quality feedback subsequently go on to boost student performance. One study on the District of Columbia’s IMPACT teacher-evaluation system found that teachers on the cusp of dismissal, or of receiving a bonus, generally went on to pull up their evaluation scores the following year.

Many of the states’ new systems continue to be in a process of testing and refinement, with their scoring mechanisms facing challenges both from those who think they are too lenient or incompletely implemented and from those who feel they are unfair or counterproductive. For that reason, teacher evaluation is likely remain a contentious and central topic in K-12 education.

Terms to Know

Collective Bargaining: The process by which a district and a union representing teachers arrive at a contract spelling out work hours and conditions, salary, benefits, and processes for handling grievances. Often, contracts also set out details on professional development and other school initiatives, or supplement state law governing teachers. Contracts are legally binding.

“Last In, First Out” (LIFO): Many states and districts use seniority in making layoff decisions, despite pressure from some advocacy groups to base those decisions on performance, instead. Often, this process is referred to as “last in, first out.”

Teacher Observations: Most teacher-evaluation systems require teachers to be observed several times. State and local policies determine such details as the length of the observations, the mix of formal and informal visits, whether they must be accompanied by pre- or post-observation conferences, and who conducts them. Though generally principals and administrators are responsible for teacher evaluation, some districts include other teachers and even independent consultants or “validators.”

Teacher Tenure: When a teacher has completed his or her state’s probationary period successfully, he or she receives career status, sometimes known as tenure. (Most states have probationary periods of three years.) In general, tenured teachers can be fired only for a reason listed in state law. Districts must prove that they have met this standard during a due-process hearing. Due-process procedures typically differ based on whether the charges deal with misconduct or poor performance.

Value-Added Model (VAM): In the context of teacher evaluation, value-added modeling is a statistical method of analyzing growth in student-test scores to estimate how much a teacher has contributed to student-achievement growth. In general, VAMs factor in the gains the student was expected to make based on past performance, and in some cases, control for elements such as peer characteristics and background, including poverty level and family education.

Teacher-Evaluation Research and Resources

  • “The Widget Effect,” by Daniel Weisberg, Susan Sexton, Jennifer Mulhern, and David Keeling. This report from advocacy group TNTP documents uniformly high teacher-evaluation results and a very low number of teachers being dismissed for performance in the 12 districts studied. (View an Education Week summary.)
  • “Measures of Effective Teaching,” project led by Thomas J. Kane. The study commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation examines the technical properties of several different gauges of teaching quality, including their ability to predict students’ test scores. (View an Education Week summary of the final reports.)
  • “Error Rates in Measuring Teacher and Student Performance Based on Student Test-Score Gains,” by Peter Z. Schochet and Hanley S. Chiang. This federally financed study examines error rates in value- added measures of teacher effectiveness, concluding that misclassifications could be as high as 25 percent to 35 percent depending on the number of years of data used.


Teacher Evaluation: An Issue Overview? ›

Teacher evaluation is defined as a systematic procedure for reviewing the performance of a teacher in a classroom and analyzing the review to provide constructive feedback for the teacher's professional growth. Details of a teacher evaluation survey may vary from district to district as they are governed by state laws.

What is the overview of teacher evaluation? ›

Teacher evaluation is defined as a systematic procedure for reviewing the performance of a teacher in a classroom and analyzing the review to provide constructive feedback for the teacher's professional growth. Details of a teacher evaluation survey may vary from district to district as they are governed by state laws.

What is the most important part of teacher evaluation? ›

According to Danielson, the most important part of the teacher evaluation framework is the 3rd domain “Instruction.” Students should be intellectually involved in the learning process through activities.

What should I comment on teacher evaluation? ›

Help your students win with money today!
  • We appreciate you. Teachers don't just teach—they prepare us for the road ahead. ...
  • Your sacrifices don't go unnoticed. ...
  • You made this easy to understand. ...
  • My child wants to learn more about this. ...
  • You truly care about your students. ...
  • You're making a huge impact.
Apr 10, 2023

What is a teacher evaluation on common app? ›

Teacher Evaluation (TE)

The Teacher Evaluation includes details about the teacher, their relationship with the student, and their letter of recommendation. If applicable, this will also include academic ratings for the student.

What is a professional overview for teachers? ›

What to include in your resume summary
  • Work experience. Give a few brief details about your unique teaching experience. ...
  • Essential skills. ...
  • Quantitative achievements. ...
  • Teaching credentials. ...
  • Choose a summary style. ...
  • Write in active voice. ...
  • Use relevant keywords. ...
  • Include the most prominent details.
Mar 16, 2023

What is the general overview of a teacher? ›

Develops, plans, and implements curriculum, lesson plans, and educational programs for student audiences within areas of expertise. Advises, tests, and teaches students audiences in a variety of academic subjects. Presents and reinforces learning concepts within a specified subject or subject area.

What are the two components of teacher evaluation? ›

Teacher evaluation scores result from the combination of teacher practice ratings and student achievement measures.

What are the three main purposes of evaluation? ›

This article discusses the relationships between the three main goals of evaluation (to learn, measure and understand) and the various types of evidence (evidence of presence, of difference-making, of mechanism) which are produced and/or used in the evaluation process.

What are three major areas for evaluating effective instruction? ›

Effective teaching involves aligning the three major components of instruction: learning objectives, assessments, and instructional activities.

What is an example of great evaluation comments? ›

You always deliver work ahead of schedule and never forget any details.” "One of your greatest strengths is your ability to manage multiple responsibilities.” "This year, you've demonstrated your ability to take on new projects while also meeting your day-to-day goals.”

How do you write an evaluation comment example? ›

Effective Performance Appraisal Phrases
  • 1) Always on time (or even early) for meetings and conferences. ...
  • 21) Has a cheerful attitude that benefits her teammates. ...
  • 41) Excellent at customer service. ...
  • 61) One of our most dependable team members. ...
  • 81) Accepts constructive criticism and works to improve.

What is an example of positive feedback for teacher observations? ›

Allowing more wait time, which you did, gets kids thinking and participating more.” “You corrected every error that I saw. That will help kids become more accurate decoders more quickly.” “You consistently highlighted the new vocabulary words.

What are pros on students evaluating teachers? ›

Advantages of students evaluating teachers
  • Educators can identify current strengths and weaknesses, and work harder in the areas that need development.
  • Students can guide teachers toward providing educational experiences they truly enjoy.

What should I write in professional overview? ›

The professional summary focuses on your key skills, achievements, and experiences and convinces the employer why you are the best person for the job. It is essential that you include relevant keywords in your resume to get it past the ATS.

How do you write a professional overview example? ›

Mention your current job title and professional experience. Say how you want to help the employer achieve their goals. Add info on your key achievements to prove you can deliver results when hired. Limit it to 3 or 5 sentences and use numbers whenever possible.

How do you write a professional overview? ›

How to write a professional summary?
  1. In the first bullet point, write your professional title. Don't forget to add the number of years of experience. ...
  2. Pick the 3-4 most impressive parts of your resume and reword them into snappy bullet points. ...
  3. Translate each achievement into numbers. ...
  4. Sum up what you have to offer.
Feb 14, 2023

What is structured overview in teaching? ›

A structured overview is exactly that – an overview of a topic, organised in a structured, hierarchical, graphic manner. Start with the topic/subtopic heading at the top of the page. Determine how many subheadings are going to form the next layer down and organise them across the page.

What is structured overview method of teaching? ›

A structured overview is a graphic organiser used to arrange the key words and concepts on a topic. They may be completed individually or collaboratively. The words are organised in a hierarchical structure, beginning with the topic heading.

What are 5 typical duties of a teacher? ›

  • Plan lessons and instruct their students in the subject they teach.
  • Assess students' abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Adapt lessons to changes in class size.
  • Grade students' assignments and exams.
  • Communicate with parents about students' progress.
Jan 10, 2023

What are the three types of evaluation in teaching? ›

Specifically there are three types of evaluation used in the classroom. These are summative evaluation, formative evaluation and diagnostic evaluation.

What are the five basic components of an evaluation describe each? ›

Evaluation Phases and Processes
  • Planning. ...
  • Implementation — Formative and Process Evaluation. ...
  • Completion — Summative, Outcome, and Impact Evaluation. ...
  • Dissemination and Reporting.

What are the 4 types of evaluations? ›

The four basic types of evaluation: clinical reviews, clinical trials, program reviews, and program trials.

What is the main goal of evaluation? ›

The purpose of evaluation is to provide a systematic and objective assessment of a project, program, policy, or initiative to determine its effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, and sustainability.

What are the 5 methods of evaluation? ›

The main types of evaluation are process, impact, outcome and summative evaluation.

What is the role of the teacher in the evaluation process? ›

Teachers provide opportunities, methods, feedback, and tools for students to assess themselves and each other. Teachers use 21st century assessment systems to inform instruction and demonstrate evidence of students' 21st century knowledge, skills, performance, and dispositions. Teachers analyze student learning.

How teachers can improve their teaching? ›

In-Classroom Suggestions for Teacher Improvement
  • Start small, think big. ...
  • Utilize the latest technologies. ...
  • Prioritize student relationships. ...
  • Empower parents to be your ally. ...
  • Ensure your curriculum knowledge.

How often should teachers be evaluated? ›

Frequency of Evaluations: California requires new teachers and permanent teachers with an unsatisfactory evaluation to be formally evaluated once a year. Once teachers attain permanent status in California, they must be evaluated at least every other year.

What should I say in an evaluation? ›

What to say in a performance review
  • Talk about your achievements. ...
  • Discuss ways to improve. ...
  • Mention skills you've developed. ...
  • Ask about company development. ...
  • Provide feedback on tools and equipment. ...
  • Ask questions about future expectations. ...
  • Explain your experience in the workplace. ...
  • Find out how you can help.
Sep 30, 2022

What should I write in my evaluation? ›

It should look something like this:
  • Goals (personal or assigned)
  • Areas of accomplishment since last review.
  • Insights on productivity.
  • Areas of improvement since last review.
  • Growth plan or professional development plan.
  • Company values/personal values.
Jan 28, 2022

What should I write in my performance review summary? ›

Explaining how you came to achieve success is just as important as mentioning the success itself, so be sure to include who else contributed to this success, how responsibilities were divided or even any problem-solving you had to do when things didn't go as planned.

How do you write a negative performance review in a positive way example? ›

During the review

For example, say, “I want your work to improve so that you can become a top performer.” Criticize constructively by explaining precisely what the employee must do to improve in nonjudgmental terms. For example, don't say, “You have poor time management” and leave it at that.

How do you write an evaluation message? ›

Tips for Writing an Effective Letter of Evaluation
  1. Assess suitability rather than advocate for the applicant.
  2. Focus on the applicant's qualifications rather than details about coursework, assignments, a job or an institution.
  3. Focus on behaviors you have observed directly.

How do you write a simple evaluation? ›

Steps for Writing an Evaluation Essay
  1. Choose your topic. As with any essay, this is one of the first steps . ...
  2. Write a thesis statement. ...
  3. Determine the criteria used to assess the product. ...
  4. Look for supporting evidence. ...
  5. Draft your essay. ...
  6. Review, revise & rewrite.

How do you write feedback to a teacher in simple words? ›

5 Secrets to Giving Positive Feedback to a Teacher
  1. Thank the teacher for their time and effort.
  2. Mention something specific that you observed that you thought was positive.
  3. Explain how the positive behavior impacted student learning.
  4. Give an example of how the teacher could continue to improve in this area.

What are three positive feedback examples? ›

Here are some positive feedback examples to help you get started:
  • Your input to today's meeting was a game-changer for this project. ...
  • I am truly impressed with how you have managed to meet every goal set before you. ...
  • Consistency is one of your biggest strengths. ...
  • You did a great job with your presentation today.
Apr 27, 2023

What is an example of teacher observation? ›

For example, a teacher may observe that a number of students are looking out of the window rather than watching the science demonstration, or a teacher may hear students making comments in their group indicating they do not understand what they are supposed to be doing.

What is the overview of evaluation training process? ›

The processes of training evaluation can be divided into five steps: identify purposes of evaluation; select evaluation methods; design evaluation tools, collect data; and analyze and report results. Before developing evaluation systems, the purposes of evaluation must be determined.

What are the objectives of teacher evaluation? ›

Objectives of Teacher Performance Evaluations

These are to guide improvement of teaching skills, to recognize and reinforce teaching excellence, to help teachers focus on student outcomes, and to plan in service education activities.

What is the role of evaluation in teacher education? ›

Evaluation of teaching can have many purposes, including collecting feedback for teaching improvement, developing a portfolio for job applications, or gathering data as part of personnel decisions, such as reappointment or promotion and tenure. Most of the methods described below can be used for all of these functions.

What are the functions of evaluation for teachers? ›

Evaluation plays an enormous role in the teaching – learning process. It helps teachers and learners to improve teaching and learning. Evaluation is a continuous process and a periodic exercise. It helps in forming the values of judgment, educational status, or achievement of student.

What is the overview of an evaluation plan? ›

An evaluation plan is a written document that describes how you will monitor and evaluate your program, as well as how you intend to use evaluation results for program improvement and decision making. The evaluation plan clarifies how you will describe the “What,” the “How,” and the “Why It Matters” for your program.

What is the overview of performance evaluation? ›

A performance review is a formal assessment in which a manager evaluates an employee's work performance, identifies strengths and weaknesses, offers feedback, and sets goals for future performance. Performance reviews are also called performance appraisals or performance evaluations.

What is the overview of process and outcome evaluation? ›

Process/implementation evaluation determines whether program activities have been implemented as intended. Outcome/effectiveness evaluation measures program effects in the target population by assessing the progress in the outcomes or outcome objectives that the program is to achieve.

What are the three main goals of evaluation? ›

This article discusses the relationships between the three main goals of evaluation (to learn, measure and understand) and the various types of evidence (evidence of presence, of difference-making, of mechanism) which are produced and/or used in the evaluation process.

What are the major goals for evaluation in education? ›

Evaluation helps to build an educational programme, assess its achievements and improve upon its effectiveness. It serves as an in-built monitor within the programme to review the progress in learning from time to time. It also provides valuable feedback on the design and the implementation of the programme.

What is the main objective of evaluation? ›

Objectives of evaluation:

determining the effectiveness of the learning process or program.

Why does teacher evaluation matter? ›

Strong teacher evaluation systems, when paired with supports and incentives, are designed to do the following: 1) Provide a more valid measure of teacher quality by distinguishing between teachers at different performance levels; 2) Recognize strong teachers and keep them in the classroom; 3) Encourage consistently ...

What are the four major functions of evaluation in education? ›

Functions of evaluation are :
  • Diagnosis, motivation.
  • Diagnosis, prediction.
  • Motivation, understanding.
  • Teaching, learning.


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