Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I still haven't found what I'm looking for (U2)

The dust is starting to settle on the teacher evaluations - only five teachers saw me today with their concerns - and I'm starting to reflect on the effectiveness of teacher evaluations on student achievement.

I did a Google search and it wasn't very helpful.

There were complaints aplenty about evaluations being unfair and summative in nature when they should be formative as well (and inform teachers of improvements that need to be made).

There are papers showing how appraisal/evaluation is good for teachers (well yes - of course it is if the teacher is open minded enough to listen and heed advice) but I couldn't find anything that indicated beyond a series of platitudes how it was good for students.

John Hattie in his Visible Learning book says that 'almost everything works' in so much as 95% of all things we do in teaching are positive. As he says, "one only needs a pulse and we can improve achievement". I'm not arguing with him. I'm sure teacher evaluation systems have a positive impact.

But how much? And how much given the length of time and amount of energy expended on them? As one of my teachers who complained to me today said, "I could go away and generate some paperwork evidence but how do you know it achieves anything?"
Those are three good questions.

The closest I've come is the aforementioned new guru of student achievement - John Hattie. And it's not good news for the advocates of teacher evaluation.

Specifically considering student feedback to teachers (often used in teacher evaluations) he reports that feedback derived from student rating of the quality of teachers and teaching 'rarely leads to improvements in their teaching and the effectiveness of their courses'.

Those three good questions remain then. Someone out there in the interweb must have some answers but I still haven't found what I'm looking for.

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