Monday, February 13, 2012

Teacher and Administrator Rating Scales: A new way of doing things

Ratings of teachers and administrators have long been a part of instructional evaluation. Many districts have written their own tools and rubrics to conduct such evaluations. Others have made use of rating scales devised by outside vendors. Until recent legislative initiatives such as SB 1040 in Arizona, there has been little structure or uniformity in the way ratings are implemented and how the results are used across different districts.

A large volume of research exists to guide the construction of teacher and administrator rating scales. Moreover, a number of instruments have been developed based on the extensive body of existing knowledge regarding instructional effectiveness. The existing body of research on instruction provides a useful foundation for meeting challenges associated with the rapidly growing interest and related legislation aimed at improving the quality of instruction in the nation’s schools.
The major challenge emerging from the new demand for instructional evaluation is the need to integrate information on ratings of teacher and administrator effectiveness with data on student progress. Effective integration requires continuing research evaluating the relationship between ongoing ratings of teacher and administrator proficiency and current measures of student progress. The focus of this research will be to evaluate the extent to which high quality instruction is associated with high levels of student achievement.

In the next few months we will be releasing a system for evaluating instruction that integrates data on teacher and administrator proficiency with data on student academic progress. The new system will bring many advantages that are not available with the traditional way of doing things. One of the most important advantages will be support for the development of customized tools for teacher and administrator evaluation. One size does not fit all. Customization is made possible by the application of the same sophisticated psychometric analyses that are applied to producing customized benchmark assessments for use evaluating student learning. All of this is accomplished by building a bank of rating scale items that are “all on the same scale.” This means that scores may be calculated from any set of items and compared meaningfully to a score from any other set. Progress may be followed and decisions made from the comparison. Progress may be meaningfully followed while still retaining the ability to have a focused tool that taps directly into the skills that are important at any one given time.
The new approach will also provide proficiency scale scores that can be meaningfully applied to understanding what works in the classroom with the district’s own kids. Ratings from scales constructed in this fashion may be brought to bear in analysis of student outcomes. What is truly effective and what is not may be easily identified. 

We are scheduling the release of the new system this spring at which time we will be conducting pilot testing of the new approach.

John Bergan, Ph.D.
Vice President Research and Development

No comments: