flickr photo by US Department of Education shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Evolving Roles of School Administrators

How to ensure evaluator capacity

Greg McVerry
May 3, 2016 · 4 min read

We know teachers matter.

In fact studies examining teacher effectiveness using both statistical models (Rockoff, 2004; Rivkin et al., 2005; Harris and Sass, 2006) and observed evidence (Gallagher, 2004; Goldring et al., 2014; Schacter and Thum, 2004;) have found that teacher quality significantly predicts student achievement.

More critically how a teacher performs in her first two years is the strongest indicator of her performance across the lifetime of her career. We need to get teacher evaluation correct.

Principals report using teacher evaluation in their staffing decisions. Yet based on recent research they rely more on their observational data rather than value added statistical models.

flickr photo by TomashDevenishek shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Goldring et al. (2014), in their interviews of administrators found that principals rely more on observational data rather than value added models when making staffing decisions. Based on their interview data principals do not have access to the results of VAM systems in a timely manner to make staffing decisions. They do not and often are legally forbidden to know how the formulas in VAM work. Finally building administrators also believe their observations to be more valid.

Yet reviews and statistical analysis of teacher evaluation systems suggest problematic amounts of variance and bias in the ratings of teachers. Specifically they still skew too high. While we should not be surprised that a majority of certified professionals are effective in their jobs — even principals recognize the problem of inflated ratings.

flickr photo by nick.amoscato shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

In fact in one recent study district evaluators perceive overall teacher effectiveness to be lower than their actual ratings. Kraft and Gilmour (2016) asked evaluators in on district in the northeast:

(1) to rate the percentage of teachers in their school that in their judgement were in each of the four performance categories and (2) to predict the percentage of teachers in their school they thought will actually be rated at each of these levels

In other words principals and evaluators in the district know scores might be inflated.

Kraft & Gilmour then interviewed f 24 principals (half the principals in the study chose not to be interviewed) in the study. Patterns in the data suggest a variety of human motives for rating employees high: time constraints, recognizing potential and motivation, and personal discomfort.

The Conundrum

So how do we respond to our nations school leaders who believe their own evaluations to be a more valid teacher quality than growth measures but who also recognize a variety of local conditions bias the results?

If principals want to use observations in staffing decisions than teachers deserve to know districts take every step possible to ensure evaluators have the capacity as instructional leaders.

Instructional Leadership Requires Evaluator Capacity

At ReVIEW Talent Feedback System we believe that every teacher deserves high quality feedback centered on growth. This requires takes new skill sets in our building administrators, coaches, and instructional managers.

We offer districts, states, charter management organizations and consultants working with these local educational agencies a variety of tools to increase evaluator capacity. ReVIEW Talent Feedback System comes with a professional development library of normed videos that can be used in calibration activities and district trainings.

We also use ReVision Learning’s RVL Supervisory Continuum to provide feedback to evaluators. Our philosophy is simple really. We train evaluators by giving scoring, rating, and debriefing that we expect them to use with educators.

The RVL Supervisory Continuum provides evaluators feedback in six areas: rubric understanding; observation methods; curriculum, instruction and assessment; supportive yet critical feedback; awareness of bias; and clear communication.

The video calibration activities we provide can be expertly scored by us. We can then connect you with learning resources, provide hybrid coaching, and even on the ground coaching.

Moving Forward

In the era of Race to the Top and NCLB waivers we made progress in the area of observational feedback. Yet much work remains. We must begin by ensuring our principals have the capacity to provide high quality feedback. At ReVIEW Talent Feedback System we want to help administrators grow into these new roles.

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