Why a Good Teacher Evaluation Program is Key to Student Success


The LinkIt! Team

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7 minutes

Why a Good Teacher Evaluation Program is Key to Student Success

District administrators and school board members are tasked with making important decisions that impact the success of their students. One such decision is how to evaluate the teachers in their district. A good teacher evaluation program can help identify which teachers need additional support and help promote those who are doing a great job. It is critical for administrators to ensure that their evaluation program is fair and accurate so that all teachers can be held to high standards. In this post, we will explore what a teacher evaluation system is and how a thoughtful evaluation program can be leveraged to benefit all stakeholders in positive ways.

What is a Teacher Evaluation System? 

A teacher evaluation system (TES) is a set of tools that school districts use to evaluate teacher performance in the classroom. In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on using these systems as a way to monitor educator effectiveness and hold teachers accountable for student progress towards defined academic goals, including the concept of enabling their students to make at least one year’s worth of academic gains for each year of classroom instruction. Let’s take a look at some of the most common criteria covered by a teacher evaluation.

Districts and principals have to make sure that each teacher is creative in developing activities and lessons for their students and that they are always prepared for class. The evaluations check whether the teachers plan class time well and arrange assignments that help students to problem solve and think critically, providing activities that make the subject matter meaningful. They look for signs that each teacher manages time well and is clear in giving directions and in explaining what is expected on assignments and tests. They also typically cover the degree to which teachers offer timely and meaningful feedback on student work and whether they grade student assignments in a thoughtful and unbiased manner.

Broadly speaking, giving teachers the feedback and support they need to foster an environment in which each student can truly thrive and achieve their maximum potential should be the ultimate goal of any teacher evaluation program Schools have a responsibility to ensure that their learners are entrusted to teachers that believe in their potential for growth, regardless of their specific socio-economic status, nationality, gender, ethnicity or individual needs. 

What happens if a Teacher Does Not Meet Expectations? 

“Teachers provide the stable, nurturing, inspiring environment that makes it possible to reach each student individually. Teachers and the classroom environment are the foundation of a solid educational experience. Teachers need and want an evaluation system that strengthens their knowledge, their skills and their practices, and the goal of any teacher evaluation system should be to improve student learning” - California Teacher’s Association

There is significant consensus around the notion that teacher evaluations are an important part of the process of ensuring that all students have access to high-quality education. However, the question of how to manage teachers that consistently fall below expectations tends to be more controversial. Of course, specific circumstances vary widely, but like any other professional group, teachers benefit on the job training and support, particularly when that support comes from more experienced masters of the profession. While it may be difficult to change long-standing habits, teachers who are willing to put in the effort to improve their practice will undoubtedly see positive results as will the administrators that support them in their efforts to improve their instructional and classroom management practices

The best way to improve teaching performance is rooted in a commitment to continual learning and professional growth. There are many ways for teachers to learn and grow, both formally and informally. Professional development opportunities exist in a variety of formats, including online courses, books, journals, conferences, and workshops. In addition to formal professional development opportunities, teachers can also engage in informal learning activities such as reading articles or blogs related to teaching practice, attending talks by experts in the field of education, participating in online discussions with colleagues about teaching strategies or best practices, or watching videos on effective instruction.

How are Teacher Evaluation Systems Important to Student success?

Teacher evaluation systems are important to student success because they provide a way for teachers to be held accountable for their teaching. They also help identify areas in which teachers need improvement and can help guide professional development opportunities. These evaluations also play a role in teacher retention by providing critical feedback that helps teachers see how they are doing and whether they are meeting the expectations of their school district or administration.

Not only do teacher performance evaluations foster professional growth in educators, they also promote better learning experiences for students. To improve the effectiveness of the teaching and learning dynamic, evaluations solicit evidence from various stakeholders and use this information to generate valid outcomes that indicate directions for development.

Impact on Students Who Experience Poor Teaching Methods

The impact on students who consistently experience poor teaching can be significant.. From developing low confidence to causing confusion, poor grades and the lost opportunity to experience success during key formative years and beyond. No child deserves to be taught in a way that is chronically ineffective. Unfortunately, many students are currently being subjected to this type of teaching. 

Ineffective teaching methods can have a significant impact on a student's academic achievement and development and severely affect motivation and engagement. Poor teaching can also lead to behavioral issues in students. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to help teachers improve their craft and gain greater insights into their own instructional efficacy

An Analysis of Teacher Evaluation Systems

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) published a report on four districts and two states that implemented teacher evaluation systems and gave a synopsis of the process they went through, the challenges they faced, and the respective outcomes of having made a substantial investment of both time and resources to ensure that they had quality teachers in place. 

According to the NCTQ, a strong teacher evaluation system, when paired with supports and incentives, is designed to: 

  • Provide a more valid measure of teacher quality by distinguishing between teachers at different performance levels.
  • Recognize strong teachers and keep them in the classroom.
  • Encourage consistently less effective teachers to leave the classroom.
  • Help all teachers improve.
  • Recruit more effective new teachers.
  • Achieve gains in student learning and other positive student outcomes.

The NCTQ analysis discussed how evaluation systems have evolved and depicted how they can benefit teachers, and, most importantly, benefit students. Any challenges they faced were far outnumbered by the benefits realized. Read the full report here.

How LinkIt! Plays a Role in Successful Teacher Evaluation

LinkIt! is a diverse team of experienced professionals, including educators, technologists, and data scientists. While our platform doesn’t include a formal teacher evaluation system, we believe that the data we collect across multiple source systems, from State assessments to benchmarks, local assessments, attendance records, grades, performance tasks and other key performance indicators, enables teachers to gain greater insights into their own instructional efficacy. 

Specifically, we provide schools and districts with customized reports in the following categories that are often used in the context of teacher performance evaluations:

  • State standard achievement and growth reports by teacher
  • grade/assessment performance correlations (i.e. grade inflation reports)
  • longitudinal performance across achievement levels, demographics, content areas
  • SGO/SGP correlation reports

The ability to get detailed and granular with the data, in our view, is fundamental to delivering on the promise of a student-centric approach to instruction that meets each learner where they are, both from an academic and social-emotional standpoint. Perhaps of equal importance is that by leveraging student performance data from multiple sources, LinkIt! supports schools and districts in their efforts to create teacher evaluation systems that are truly objective and data-driven.  

We are passionate about supporting education from every angle and encourage teachers everywhere to aim for excellence in their classrooms. From our inception as an organization, we have always adhered to a corporate mission and philosophy of continuous improvement. Put another way, the best solutions are never truly “done.” Instead, they are living, breathing technology systems that constantly evolve based on changing conditions and user feedback from our network of educators. The moment that we believe that our work is done and we can no longer improve is the moment that we are not pushing ourselves hard enough to strive to be our very best. We look at teacher evaluation through a similar lens based on our own belief that there is always room for growth regardless of one’s prior achievements. Successful teacher evaluation systems should never be punitive in nature, but should be used to identify areas where individual teachers require additional support.


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