How should we evaluate teacher quality?

The education psychologist have recently released a policy brief that discusses empirically based assessment of teacher quality. They write,

Division 15 (Educational Psychology) of the American Psychological Association is proud to announce their second policy brief, “Addressing Teacher Evaluation Appropriately.” This brief, focused on teacher evaluation practices and policies in schools was written by Alyson Lavigne and Thomas Good. A copy of the brief is attached for you to read and share.

About the Brief: In this policy brief, Lavigne and Good argue that the most commonly used practices to evaluate teachers—statistical approaches to determine student growth like value-added measures and the observation of teachers—have not improved teaching and learning in U.S. schools.  They have not done so because these approaches are problematic, including the failure to adequately account for context, complexity, and that teacher effectiveness and practice varies.  With these limitations in mind, the authors provide recommendations for policy and practice, including the elimination of high-stakes teacher evaluation and a greater emphasis on formative feedback, allowing more voice to teachers and underscoring that improving instruction should be at least as important as evaluating instruction.

Share the Brief! It’s important that our national policy be based on sound evidence.  You can see a copy of the brief here so that you may share this directly with your constituents—local policymakers, practitioners, educational organizations, faculty, staff, and students who are engaged in K-12 settings and research.  You can also promote this important work via social media using Twitter or Facebook using the following link:

If you have any questions about the contents of this brief, please contact Alyson Lavigne (  Any questions or ideas for future Division 15 policy briefs should be directed to Sharon Nichols, Chair of Division 15’s Policy and Practice Committee (  For additional information about research related to problems involved in current teacher evaluation practices, see Lavigne and Good’s recent publication, Enhancing Teacher Education, Development, and Evaluation.

I think the implications for practice are particularly poignant:

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The brief also outlines the problems with value-added modeling and high-stakes evaluation of teachers. It’s a must read for policymakers and community members that need empirically based arguments to push back against improper evaluation of teacher quality.

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One comment

  • I recommended a long time ago that an evaluation team, after some inspection process, should sit down with a teacher and agree upon growth goals for the teacher (in detail). In the next evaluation cycle, the teacher is evaluated on progress toward meeting those goals. Unmet goals can be carried over, but if unmet for three cycles, there is something wrong, either in the effort applied to meeting the goal or the nature of the goal itself. Obviously some goals can be made more important that others; priorities can be set. Support structures need to be in place to provide aid/feedback/etc. for teachers working on goals.

    This would place teacher evaluations firmly on a basis of continuous improvement, which I believe all parties want.

    Liked by 1 person

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