Can You Identify Good Teachers Just By Watching Them?

Most teacher evaluation systems that are currently in use—systems that rely heavily on direct observations of teachers in their classrooms—provide little information about which teachers are effective and which are ineffective. A 2009 study by the New Teacher Project found that 98 percent of teachers in the districts studied were evaluated as satisfactory.

A new study published by EdNext looks at whether an improved evaluation system–one based on classroom observations performed by trained professionals external to the school, using an extensive set of standards—can identify those teachers whose students learn the most. The study, by a team of scholars at Harvard, Brown and Stanford universities, using data from the Cincinnati Public Schools, finds that “teachers’ scores on the classroom observation components of Cincinnati’s evaluation system reliably predict the achievement gains made by their students in both math and reading.”

For more, please see “Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness: Can classroom observations identify practices that raise achievement?” by Thomas J. Kane, Eric S. Taylor, John H. Tyler and Amy L. Wooten, in the Summer 2011 issue of Education Next, or read this press release summarizing the study.

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