A new report by Stanford professor and teaching quality scholar Linda Darling-Hammond takes a fresh look at the question of how (and why) to measure teacher effectiveness.

Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness: How Teacher Performance Assessments Can Measure and Improve Teaching, published by the Center for American Progress, is in part a response to frequent calls from advocates of student-test-centered evaluation for their critics to present viable alternatives. The report

…describes the ways in which assessments of teacher performance for licensing and certification can both reflect and predict teachers’ success with children so that they can not only inform personnel decisions, but also leverage improvements in preparation, mentoring, and professional development. It outlines progress in the field of teacher assessment development and discusses policies that could create much greater leverage on the quality of teacher preparation and teaching than has previously existed in the United States.

Darling-Hammond makes the case that large-scale school improvement will only come about when the United States catches up with nations that have “developed a national system of supports and incentives to ensure that all teachers are well prepared and ready to teach all students effectively when they enter the profession.”

These nations, she says, have also created “a set of widely available methods to support the evaluation and ongoing development of teacher effectiveness throughout the career, along with decisions about entry and continuation in the profession.”

Meeting the expectation that all students will learn to high standards will require a transformation in the ways in which our education system attracts, prepares, supports, and develops expert teachers who can teach in more powerful ways—a transformation that depends in part on the ways in which these abilities are understood and assessed.

The report is downloadable both in PDF format and from Scribd for mobiles and e-readers.

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