http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/oct/31/improve-teacher-assess-schools-performance• Assess students first.
If teachers are assessed against their students’ performance, before you can have a robust method of assessing teachers, you first need an effective way of evaluating students across the piece. The report suggests that a “system of crowd-sourced assessments” that can be assessed by teachers and quality assured could be key elements of student testing to help with this.
• Be aware of the pitfalls
The report urges caution when using different teacher assessment methods, including lesson observations, student ratings, looking at lesson plans and assignments etc, and inspections from the senior leadership team. The report assesses the effectiveness of a variety of methods and concludes that: “All these methods have potential value, but all have their problems. If they are done well, using the best available protocols, with awareness of how they can be biased or inaccurate, and with due caution about what inferences they can and cannot support, then they should be useful tools.”
One simple measure of a teacher effectiveness in the classroom could be timing how long a student is engaged with a task. The beauty of this method is that, while it’s fairly crude, it’s easy to measure, track and compare. Moreover, logic follows that if you improve how long a student engages with a topic for, their learning will surely improve. Student feedback is touted as another cheap and easy way of assessing teachers. But, while it’s widely used in higher education there is no research as yet about its use in schools.
• Use a variety of methods
Linked to the point above, while one-size doesn’t fit all, the report suggests that to effectively assess a teacher you must gain evidence from a variety of methods then evaluate them against each other. While the plethora of data this will produce might seem daunting, it will go some way to negating the pitfalls associated with each of the methods when used in isolation.
• Create a support system in schools
When analysing each assessment method, the report paid close attention to what it termed as “political” factors, such as trust, authority, power and who controlled the information and how this affected the assessments. An internal school support system would help teachers respond positively to the challenge of improvement and keeps the assessment within the profession, according to the research. But it also notes that without external inspectors schools could be constrained by the skills within their team and creating a peer review system that’s sufficiently challenging can be difficult.
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