Can Rigorous, Observation-based Teacher Evaluations Move the Needle on Student Achievement?

States and school districts across the nation have recently revised and implemented new teacher evaluation systems. Under these new systems, the majority of a teacher’s evaluation rating depends on observations of classroom practice. Our research identifies the potential of more rigorous, observation-based teacher evaluations for improving teaching practice and, ultimately, student outcomes. But improving the capacity of observers to effectively evaluate teachers requires a substantive investment of time and resources.

Time to pay up: Analyzing the motivational potential of financial awards in a TIF program

Although researchers have analyzed the impact of financial incentives on teacher behaviors and work conditions, few studies have looked inside schools to examine how current teachers interpret their rewards, to gauge how payouts affect their willingness to participate in these programs, and to explain the conflicting evidence about the effects of incentives. In recent research focused on teachers’ views of these pay incentives, findings identify design considerations that may affect the potential of educator incentive programs to operate as intended.

How Do Principals Use Teacher Value-Added and Classroom Observation Data to Make Human Capital Decisions?

Many new teacher evaluation systems include measures of both student growth and teacher classroom observations. Although much of the policy attention focuses on student growth or value-added measures, interview and survey data from 6 urban school districts suggests principals rely less on test scores than classroom observations in their human capital decision making. In particular, the consistency, transparency, and specificity of observation data seem to provide benefits for principals seeking to use these data to inform decisions around teacher hiring, assignment, professional development, and dismissal.

The Effects of No Child Left Behind on Teachers

Conventional wisdom suggests that No Child Left Behind has increased teacher stress and undermined their feelings about the teaching profession. An analysis of four waves of nationally representative teacher survey data suggests, however, that NCLB has had little effect on attitudes such as job satisfaction and commitment to remain in teaching.

Can Professional Environments in Schools Promote Teacher Development?

Studies on the returns to teaching experience find that, on average, teachers make rapid gains in effectiveness early in their careers, but that additional experience is associated with more modest improvements. Research from North Carolina shows there is a large amount of variation in how quickly different teachers improve and teachers who work in more supportive environments improve at much greater rates than their peers in less supportive schools.

Mid-career Entrants to Teaching: Who They Are and How They May, or May Not, Change Teaching

Since the mid-1980s, policymakers have heralded mid-career entrants—teachers who enter the profession from careers outside of education—as having the potential to help avert national teacher shortages, increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the teaching force, and fill vacancies in hard-to-staff subjects, like secondary mathematics and science. Using six waves of data from the Schools and Staffing Survey and an innovative methodology, we find that the percentage of mid-career entrants among first-year teachers nearly doubled between 1988-2008 and that mid-career entrants comprise more than one-third of incoming public school teachers. Despite this influx, mid-career entrants have not substantially diversified the teaching workforce.

Can We Identify a Successful Teacher Better, Faster, and Cheaper? Evidence for Innovating Teacher Observation Systems

States and school districts may be able to meet both statutory requirements and the practical demands of managing schools by investing less effort, money, and time by using the Rapid Assessment of Teacher Effectiveness.


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