Current research on effective teacher evaluation highlights the challenges of designing an evaluation system that is both technically sound and widely accepted by educators themselves.
Despite general agreement that traditional teacher evaluation systems fail to give teachers the information they need to improve their practice, developing and implementing new teacher evaluation systems that educators support and can implement has been difficult.
Given the challenges of measuring effective teacher performance in the classroom, it is not surprising that very little research or attention has been focused on how to measure the effectiveness of teachers who take on leadership roles.
Yet teacher-leader roles are increasingly common. They do not require leaving the classroom full-time, but instead can be designed as hybrid roles that let professionals continue to teach while also leading and developing peers, or designing curriculum, instruction, or assessments. The lack of information about how to evaluate teacher leadership is compounded by the fact that teacher-leader roles and job responsibilities differ considerably across districts and states and are continuing to evolve at a rapid pace.
Until there is more experience and evidence about how to measure effective teacher leadership in a variety of roles, educators and policymakers interested in evaluating teacher-leaders can look to the cross-sector “performance management” practices that enhance job performance in a variety of roles. Research and practical human resource manuals suggest that effective performance evaluation answers three questions:
- Job responsibilities. Has the individual fulfilled the job responsibilities indicated in his or her job description?
- Behavioral competencies. Has the individual demonstrated that he or she uses the appropriate behavioral competencies—the habits of behavior that help individuals perform in their jobs—at the level needed to be effective in this position?* This is sometimes called “emotional intelligence” and includes things like planning ahead, teamwork behaviors, and persistence or “grit,” which may differ in importance among roles.
- Outcome goals. Has the individual contributed to the goals affected by his or her current position (e.g., student learning goals, conditions within the school such as behavior and attendance, or contributions to the work of other teachers)?
These three broad categories are flexible enough that they can be adapted to fit a variety of teacher-leader roles and be incorporated into current evaluation processes in use for all teachers. However, developing an effective evaluation system based on these categories requires educators and policymakers to develop job descriptions that include a summary of each role as well as clearly articulated responsibilities and qualifications. Districts or schools also need to determine the necessary behavioral competencies for each role. And school and district leaders need to ensure that goals and measures reflect the scope of the teacher-leaders’ job—for example, including the student outcomes and feedback of teachers whom the teacher-leader leads and develops.
Schools and districts will need to determine:
- Measures for each goal
- Who will provide input (peers, supervisors, students, parents, the teacher-leader)
- Instruments and methods to collect data from each source (see table below)
- When input will be gathered and by whom
- How input will be summarized—by whom and using what format
- How, when, and by whom feedback will be provided
- The impact that different aspects of performance evaluation will have on development planning, career advancement, and pay
*Schools can learn more about behavioral competencies in Competence at Work (Spencer and Spencer, 1993) or Public Impact’s selection materials for school turnaround teachers and leaders, available at http://www.publicimpact.com/teacher-leaders/competencies-of-high-performers.
Below you will find links to resources on the following topics:
- General Resources on Developing Effective Teacher Evaluation Systems
- General Resources on Measuring Job Performance
Evaluating Teacher-Leaders: Areas of Evaluation and Methods Checklist: Checklist offers overview guide for schools and districts of the three areas schools and districts should address in evaluating teacher-leaders, and methods for measuring performance in each
Approaches to Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness: A Research Synthesis: National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality considers how teacher effectiveness is defined and measured—including not just student outcomes but also teachers’ effect on school and colleagues
The Mind Shift in Teacher Evaluation: Where We Stand—and Where We Need to Go: American Educator article on successes and challenges of implementing evaluation systems, and potential missteps
Perspectives of Irreplaceable Teachers: What America’s Best Teachers Think About Teaching: TNTP report on high-performing teachers in high-poverty schools includes their views on useful evaluations
Feedback for Better Teaching: Nine Principles for Using Measures of Effective Teaching: Brief from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation uses findings from Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project to set principles for designing high-quality evaluation systems
Creating a Comprehensive System for Evaluating and Supporting Effective Teaching: Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education report from Linda Darling-Hammond provides five key elements for system that supports continuous professional development
Evaluating Teacher/Leader Effectiveness: Webinar from Center on Great Teachers and Leaders provides examples of evaluation models and measures and questions to consider about evaluation systems
Teacher Leader Self-Assessment: Teacher-leaders can use this tool from the Center on Strengthening the Teaching Profession to assess current knowledge and skills and plan for their development as leaders
Intensifying Implementation Support: An Interactive Guide to Successful Teacher Evaluation for Professional Growth: Interactive tool aims to guide teachers and teacher-leaders in examining five common challenges of designing an evaluation system
Evaluation, Accountability, and Professional Development in an Opportunity Culture: A Practical Guide: Five-step guide helps education leaders align evaluation and its uses with an Opportunity Culture and similar school models and career paths
General Resources on Measuring Job Performance
The following books provide general information about strong human resources practices, including evaluation:
The Big Book of HR
By Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem, Career Press, 2012
The Essential HR Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource for Any Manager or HR Professional
By Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell, Career Press, 2008
199 Pre-Written Employee Performance Appraisals: The Complete Guide to Successful Employee Evaluations and Documentation
By Stephanie Lyster and Anne Arthur, Atlantic Publishing Group, 2006
The Performance Appraisal Tool Kit: Redesigning Your Performance Review Template to Drive Individual and Organizational Change
By Paul Falcone and Winston Tan, AMACOM, 2013
Human Resource Management (14th edition)
By Robert L. Mathis, John H. Jackson, and Sean R. Valentine, Cengage Learning, 2013