Observations of teachers—usually the most prominent component of teacher-evaluation systems—can carry significant sources of bias, potentially penalizing English/language arts teachers of lower-achieving students,.
The paper, by Matthew Steinberg of the University of Pennsylvania and Rachel Garrett of the American Institutes of Research, was published in the January edition of the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.
Researchers examined observation scores of 834 teachers who were rated by trained reviewers on Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching. They found that ELA teachers of higher-achieving students were more likely to get higher scores on the “classroom environment” part of the observation tool, which considers teachers’ classroom management and their ability to create a respectful learning environment, among other goals.
Math teachers generally did not seem to get the same boost from having better-performing students.
A version of this article appeared in the January 27, 2016 edition of Education Week as Teacher Evaluation