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Evaluating America’s Teachers

Evaluating America’s Teachers
Mission Possible?

© 2013 | 200 pages | Corwin

When teacher evaluations are fair, everyone wins.

Poor evaluation systems don’t just hurt teachers—they hurt students, too. That’s why America can’t afford to wait for the teacher-evaluation problem to be solved. To provide balanced, accurate, and rigorous evaluations that take into account each teacher’s particular circumstances, only one system can work: evidence-governed collegial judgment.

As states and schools scramble to find workable responses to accountability mandates, well-informed educators can make key contributions. Start here with

  • A discussion of common evaluation systems, including testing, value-added models, and observations
  • Analysis of federal guidelines and state responses
  • Action steps teachers and school leaders can take to influence policy
  • A clear rationale and strategies for implementing a teacher evaluation model based on human judgment

Evaluating America’s Teachers demonstrates that the vision is possible: effective teacher evaluations that benefit schools as a whole.

“Teachers, administrators, and policy makers rejoice! Here is a single book, from a nationally recognized scholar, that makes sense of the issues involved with the evaluation of teachers.”
—David C. Berliner, Regents’ Professor Emeritus
Arizona State University

“Once again Jim Popham has brought insight and clarity to a complex topic that only a person of his stature and expertise could provide.”
—Robert J. Marzano, CEO
Marzano Research Laboratory

“In an effective and diplomatic manner, Jim suggests concrete ways policymakers, along with local school leaders and teachers, can make sure our students are protected from summative teacher-evaluation systems that do more harm than good. No one should make policy at any level or strive to build a defensible teacher evaluation system without studying this book.”
—Rick Stiggins, Retired Executive Director
Assessment Training Institute

1. What Underlies the Tightening of Today's Teacher-Evaluation Programs?
What Uncle Sam Wants  
A Federal Vision of Teacher Evaluation  
What Could Go Wrong?  
Chapter Implications for Three Audiences  
2. Human Judgment: Needed or Not?
Human Judgment's Role  
Evaluation Basics  
What about the Evaluation of Teachers?  
Judgment-Requisite Choices  
Chapter Implications for Three Audiences  
3. Defensible Teacher Evaluation
The Wonders of Whereas  
Why Use a Weighted-Evidence Judgmental Approach to Teacher Evaluation?  
A Weighted-Evidence Judgment Evaluative Survey  
Who Are the Judges?  
Chapter Implications for Three Audiences  
4. Evidence from Standardized Tests
Key Testing Tenets  
Why We Test  
A Psychometric Blessed Trinity  
Standardized Test- Two Tribes, Two Tasks  
Traditional Test-Building and Its Off-Task Allure  
The Origins of Traditional Educational Testing  
Dealing with Effective Instruction  
Ensuring Score-Spread from the Get-Go  
Instructional Sensitivity as a Requisite  
Returning to Validity  
Evidential-Weight Guidelines  
Chapter Implications for Three Audiences  
5. Evidence from Classroom Assessments
Staking Out the Nature of "Classroom Assessment"  
A Quest for Evidence of Student Growth  
Formative and Summative Applications  
Enhancing the Quality of Classroom-Assessment Evidence  
Evidence of a Teacher's Instructional Ability  
What's Assessed  
The Traditional Psychometric Triplets  
Following Test Development, Improvement, and Scoring Rules  
Have Teachers Played it Straight?  
Evidential-Weight Guidelines  
Chapter Implications for Three Audiences  
6. Evidence from Classroom Observations
What's Distinctive about Classroom Observations?  
Observations Versus Ratings  
Playing the Odds: Observation of Instructional Means  
An Observational Reality: The Mysterious Middle Group  
Getting the Most Evaluative Mileage Out of Classroom Observation Evidence  
Two Widely-Used Observation Procedures  
Danielson's Framework for Teaching  
The Marzano Model  
Evidential-Weight Guidelines  
Chapter Implications for Three Audiences  
7. Evidence from Ratings
Rooting Around with Ratings  
Lurking Comparisons  
Amalgam Judgments  
Three Flavors of Bias  
Administrators' Ratings  
Students' Ratings  
Making Ratings Righteous  
The Rating Form  
Rater Preparation  
The Old and the New  
Evidential-Weight Guidelines  
Chapter Implications for Three Audiences  
8. Evidence from Sundry Sources
Alternative Sources of Evidence for Evaluating Teachers  
Academic Achievements  
Changes in Students' Affect  
Lesson Plans  
Opportunity-to-Learn Student Surveys  
Parental Engagement  
Parent Ratings  
Professional Development  
Ratings by Colleagues  
Student Interviews  
Teacher-Made Tests  
Teachers' Self-Ratings  
Augmentation or Obfuscation?  
Evidential-Weight Guidelines  
Chapter Implications for Three Audiences  
9. Mission Possible?
Weighted-Evidence Judgment of Teachers: A Reprise  
What To Do- And How?  
Chapter Imlpications for Three Audiences  
Responding to a Subtitle  

"Jim Popham provides a step-by-step analysis of the do's and don't's regarding evaluation, and leaves the reader with hope that, done properly, teacher evaluation can lead to better instruction. Evaluating America's Teachers is a must read for policy makers, district and school administrators, and classroom teachers grappling with reviewing and improving teacher evaluation."

Alan Burke, Deputy Superintendent, K-12 Education
Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Olympia, WA

"Dr. Popham makes many true and important points in this book. Particularly noteworthy is his point that tests are not validated, inferences are. A measure that may well allow valid inferences about what a student knows may not necessarily be valid in making an inference about teacher effectiveness. I believe that many of those wishing to evaluate teacher effectiveness miss this important point."

William A. Mehrens, Professor Emeritus
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

"Through his delightful wit and insightful use of vocabulary, Jim Popham has crafted a must read book for education policy makers, school administrators, and teachers. Throughout the book there are many "pearls of wisdom" that help steer the teacher evaluation discussion in states and local school districts. As a chief state school officer who is currently working on implementing a statewide teacher evaluation system that is required to meet the Race to the Top and ESEA waiver requirements, this book provided me with the right questions to ask prior to completion of our work. I believe this book will enable readers to turn the subtitle—Mission Possible?—from a question into a reality."

Terry Holliday, Commissioner of Education
Department of Education, Frankfort, KY

"In the contentious environment where there are so many competing models for evaluating teacher quality (many of which are seriously flawed), it is refreshing (and essential) that strategies are considered that examine the full range of teacher quality (not just test scores on just reading an mathematics) to achieve a fair, valid, and comprehensive look at the quality of teachers. This book does just that and should be a "must read" for policymakers, administrators, and teachers."

Barbara Plake, Professor Emeritus
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

"Popham's gift of writing and his wealth of knowledge and experience pour out of every page in this book. It recognises the inevitable—we will evaluate teachers—and shows how it can be done properly provided we remember that it is humans weighing the various sources of evidence that make judgements and not isolated instruments (observations, tests, ratings) that make these decisions. Hence, multiple methods, growth models, a clarity between formative and summative interpretations, and an emphasis on ensuring that the methods have instructional validity. The book glistens with goodness, it is sobering but optimistic, and it is fun to read."

John Hattie, Director, Melbourne Education Research Institute
Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria, Australia
Key features
  • Clear and specific discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of common evaluation systems such as testing, value added models, and observations.
  • Cases and examples drawn from the author's experience
  • Clear and engaging writing style

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ISBN: 9781452260853

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