Thursday, May 19, 2016

How Data from New Teacher Evaluations Is Used by District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers

A new study explores how new teacher evaluation results are being used in five Arizona school districts to guide professional development and influence decisions about teachers’ compensation, classroom or school assignments, and remediation and retention.

Recent teacher evaluation reforms instituted across the country have sought to yield richer information about educators' strengths and limitations and guide decisions about targeted opportunities for professional growth. This study describes how results from new multiple-measure teacher evaluations were being used in 2014/15 in five school districts in Arizona (according to interviews with district leaders and instructional coaches and surveys of school principals and teachers), with each district administering its own local evaluation system developed to align with the overarching state evaluation regulations passed in 2011.

Among the report’s findings:

•    Teacher evaluation results are shaping coaching and support, with observation data seen as more useful than student test data for professional development decisions (in part due to their availability during the school year);

•    Online data systems help facilitate observation-based feedback; and

•    Evaluation data are not being used to identify teacher leaders or to assign teachers to schools or classrooms.

The report also found that perceptions of the new evaluation system differed among principals and teachers. Principals tended to express positive views of their district’s new evaluations, while teachers were more skeptical. Teachers were specifically concerned about measures, such as parent and student feedback and test scores, that they see as unduly influenced by factors beyond their control, as well as of the individual relevance of schoolwide and districtwide professional development offerings.

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