Teacher performance plateaus after 3-4 years without feedback

iStock_000010045687XSmallMost teachers’ performance plateaus by their third or fourth year on the job without meaningful feedback about their work in the classroom, according to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Almost everywhere, teacher evaluation does not provide meaningful feedback to help teachers improve,” says the Foundation. “Rather, most evaluation is a perfunctory exercise based largely on characteristics unrelated to student achievement.”

Identifying measures of effective teaching

The Foundation is at work on an ambitious 2-year, $45 million Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project that it hopes will provide insights into the hard-to-define characteristics of effective teaching. One basic problem in doing meaningful teacher evaluations, according to the Foundation, is that there is little agreement about how to identify and measure effective teaching.

More than 3,000 volunteer teachers are participating in the 2-year study that will attempt to identify measures of effective teaching that can be used in teacher evaluations. Thanks to a panoramic digital video camera designed especially for the project, teachers video their own lessons without a camera person. The camera requires minimal training to set up and is operated remotely by the individual teacher. The teachers will upload an estimated 20,000 video lessons to a secure internet site.

The video lessons are being scored by raters according to 5 observation protocols. Student work and achievement are also being tracked for the study. None of the individual teacher-level data will be shared with the public or with school or district personnel, the Foundation says. However, the findings and tools developed from the study will be made available to the public.

In the 2009-2010 school year, the focus of the project was on data collection. In the 2010-2011 school year, the project will focus on validating promising measures of teacher effectiveness.

Researchers will analyze 7 types of data:

  • Student feedback through surveys
  • Student work
  • Videotaped lessons
  • Supplemental student assessments
  • Teacher reflections on their videotaped lessons
  • of teachers’ ability to recognize and diagnose student problems
  • Teacher surveys on working conditions

Study participants teach math and English classes in grades 4-8; Algebra I and biology classes at the high school level and 9th-grade English. The 6 urban districts in the study are located in Charlotte, NC, Dallas, Denver, Memphis, New York City and Hillsborough County in Florida.

Protocols being used in evaluating teachers include:

  • Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)
  • Framework for Teaching
  • Mathematical Quality of Instruction
  • Protocol for Language Arts Teaching Observation (PLATO)
  • Quality Science Teaching (QST)

A subset of the videos is also being scored using the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)

“Learning to Teach,” The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2011

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