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March 21, 2018

4 Traits of Effective Evaluation Systems

Author’s note: This blog is the fourth excerpt from the free ebook “From ‘Gotcha’ to Growth: Teacher Evaluation Systems That Work.”]

As I’ve established in my previous posts, we know that current evaluation systems aren’t doing what we need them to do. We also know that current PD isn’t doing what we need it to do. But we do have research suggesting what it might take for both of these processes to be more effective. Perhaps thinking about them as a single process could help us rethink their structure – and actually support teachers in their growth.

Given the research and pulling from what we learn in the field each day, how can we begin using these data and lessons to evolve teacher evaluation into part of a more comprehensive approach to teacher support? How can we move from “gotcha” to growth? In order to be effective, evaluation systems must do these four things:

1. Provide Feedback

It’s critical that we provide timely, specific, and actionable feedback regarding practice. This feedback must happen in regular intervals (think more formative assessment and less summative score).

2. Provide Actionable Data

Teachers should be able to use the data to identify exactly what they need to work on in their practice. Administrators should be able to aggregate data and identify professional learning needs across their schools and districts.

3. Ensure Opportunities for Deliberate Practice

It’s not enough to simply tell a teacher what they’re good at and what they can improve – and then come back in a few months to check progress. Systems must be built that will provide educators with opportunities for testing new feedback-based methods and strategies, and that will continue providing feedback on the effectiveness of their approach.

4. Leverage Technology

We must utilize technology – including video – to increase the effectiveness of our observation processes. If deliberate practice, as stated above, is the ultimate goal, recent research from Harvard University’s Best Foot Forward and Visibly Better projects suggests that it may not be possible without video. In fact, Harvard Professor Thomas Kane argues that “deliberate practice is not feasible in education without video.”

Read Dr. Hofer’s case study: Using Video for Instructional Coaching to Evaluation.

And now that we’ve identified these traits, how can we use them? My final blog in this series will highlight workable strategies to help you build a growth-based evaluation system. Also, the entire series is available in my new free ebook From “Gotcha” to Growth: Teacher Evaluation Systems That Work.

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