Current Systems Don’t Work
These long evaluations aren't just painful to fill out; they are ineffective at increasing student learning and achievement. Recognition of the problems with current evaluation methods is growing (Gabriel, 2017; Hoge, 2016; Danielson, 2016). A recent Education Week blog post noted that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pulled its resources and funds from helping reshape the teacher evaluation systems in this country (lasevoli, 2018). The RAND Corporation released the results of their study regarding teacher performance evaluations and student achievement under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Measure of Effectiveness (MET) project. The results showed that, after three years of implementing new teacher evaluation rubrics, there was no correlation between teacher performance on the rubrics and student achievement (Stecher et al., 2018). Foundation decision-makers are starting to realize that there are fundamental flaws with evaluation systems throughout the nation, and that these evaluations have no impact on student learning and achievement. Medlock (2017) and
Alexander, Jang & Kankane (2017) have pointed out that current teacher performance evaluations have no effect on closing the achievement gap for Black or Latino students.
Michael Schmöker, in his Education Week article "Why Complex Teacher Evaluations Don't Work" (2012), pointed out that "these jargon-laced, confusing documents are to be used to evaluate or even to compensate teachers on the basis of multiple, full-period, pre-announced classroom observations" (n.p.). Schmöker continued, "like so many past reforms, this one will be launched nationally, like a bad movie, without being piloted and refined first. (Imagine if we did this with prescription drugs)" (n.p.). Schmoker's criticism is accurate. Teacher evaluation documents are confusing and offer no real solutions. Because they are heavily standardized, they encompass what we know as effective strategies, but do not take into account the needs of the local teachers, students or schools, or the needs of the organization as a whole.
Federal involvement in teacher evaluation policy resulted in a few things. First, the creation of comprehensive evaluation tools and rubrics. Second, the use of student data. Third, multiple classroom observations of teachers and an annual evaluation for every teacher. Classroom observation of teachers using a rubric of effective teaching was a component of each state's new evaluation system in response to RTT (Hallgren et al., 2014). The basic line of thinking is that student achievement data and principals observing teachers, providing feedback, will help identify bad teachers and help the effective teachers become even better. Together with student achievement and growth data, observation data and feedback should give the teacher enough information to improve and justify their effectiveness.