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Report Finds Bias in Teacher Evaluation Systems
posted by: Tim | May 29, 2014, 05:10 PM   


Mr. Whitehurst, director of the Brown Center, and two colleagues examined teacher evaluation data from four urban school districts, ranging in size from 25,000 to 110,00 students, for a period of one to three years. While the specific weight of teacher classroom observation varied, it accounted for at least 40% of each teacher’s overall score.

The researchers found a strong statistical link between teachers’ observation scores and the achievement levels of their students.  For example, just 9% of teachers of the lowest-achieving students received a top observation score, while 29% of the same teachers received a ranking on the bottom 20%. On the other hand, 37% of teachers of the highest performing students got a top observation score, and only 11% received the lowest score.

Although the cause of the bias isn’t clear, the study suggests the problem can be remedied by applying a handicap of sorts based on student demographics, giving a boost to teachers with many lower-performing students, and depressing the scores of those with students who tend to score well.

“Either we have to have observations designed to be immune from this kind of bias, or we have to adjust for it,” Mr. Whitehurst said. “I don’t see any other way out, if we want teachers to teach where we need them to teach, and to be valued for what they do.”

Click here
to read the full report.

While the report raises concerns about perfecting these systems, teachers are overwhelmingly in favor of teacher evaluations that provide meaningful feedback. Eager to be compensated for superior performance, AAE member educators are more than willing to accept accountability via commonsense evaluation criteria.

What do you think is a solution to classroom-observation bias?
Comment below.


>>> Originally posted to the AAE Blog

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