Debate About Using Data to Measure Teacher Effectiveness

Worth the read: A good debate on using data to measure teacher effectiveness.

Measuring teacher effectiveness is complex, and I agree with the economists that if all evaluations are based on test scores, teaching to the test will increase, especially among the less effective teachers.

Unlike batting averages, most ‘official’ student test data is acquired only once a year. We’ve also seen some of the negative effects high stakes have had on sports. Also, unlike athletes, teachers don’t all peak at the same time.

I feel like I’m an effective teacher, but I’m not sure how to really assess that. I also feel I have a lot more to learn and plenty of room for improvement.

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2 thoughts on “Debate About Using Data to Measure Teacher Effectiveness

  1. It is hard (or impossible) to use quantitative data to support qualitative effectiveness. Should we want to truly measure the effect of a teacher, we must have the starting point for each and every student in the beginning of the year or term, and then find a way to reliably measure the individual learning of each student to get the effect of the teacher (apart from becoming more mature and also apart from things learned outside of the classroom). I highly doubt anybody wants to do that.

    In the classroom, however, it is fairly simple to measure your own effectiveness as a teacher – and at the same time show your students how much they have learned. Before starting a new unit, topic, study (whatever you call an entity to be taught), just ask your students to create a mind map about everything they already know about this topic. Then collect the papers and store them until the end of unit. This information also helps you see where to target you main effort. And when in the end of the unit you ask students either to create a new mind map about the same topic, or to add learned things with a different colour to the mind map they drew in the beginning, you have pretty good evidence about your effectiveness. But also a celebration with your students who have improved so excellently. :)

    ~Nina

  2. Nina,
    Thanks for your response and ideas. I totally agree with you that the first thing you need to do is understand your students, the range of their knoweldge/understanding/critical thinking and use that to inform your practice. The assessments at the end also have to be valid to measure true progress/teacher effectiveness. I also like the celebration of improvement idea as well. If only schools valued playfulness, humor, and qualities like that as much as literacy and math, imagine what that would do for kids who excel in the prior categories, but not the latter.

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