Teachers have different ideas than education policymakers on how instructional effectiveness should be measured, according to a national survey.
The survey, conducted by Learning Point Associates and Public Agenda, found that the most popular indicator of instructional effectiveness among classroom educators is student engagement in coursework, with 92 percent of public school teachers surveyed rating it as a “good” or “excellent” measure.
By contrast, only 56 percent of teachers rated student performance on standardized tests as a good or excellent teacher-effectiveness indicator, making it the least popular option. Teachers with less than five years experience were more likely than experienced teachers to be opposed to this approach to monitoring effectiveness.
Other indicator options included how much students are learning in comparison with students in other schools (with 72 percent good or excellent rating) and feedback from principals or administrators (71 percent). No single indicator was rated as “excellent” by a majority of the teachers surveyed.
The study, titled “Convergence and Contradictions in Teachers’ Perceptions of Policy Reform Ideas,” is intended to inform education-policy discussions by bringing greater attention to teachers’ own views. A number of recent policy efforts, prominently including the federal government’s Race to the Top competition, have sought to tie teacher evaluation and compensation more closely to measures of teacher effectiveness, with a particular emphasis on student test-score results.
The study suggests that policymakers need to do a better job of including teachers in debates and “building legitimacy” for planned reforms.
In related findings, the study found that teachers who see themselves as effective were more likely to have smaller class sizes and fewer students with special needs than other teachers. “Self-perceived effective teachers” were also more likely to be positive about their working conditions and the instructional feedback they receive from their principals.
A version of this article appeared in the April 12, 2010 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook