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Retaining Teacher Talent

Report 3. Convergence and Contradictions in Teachers’ Perceptions of Policy Reform Ideas

How Would Teachers Measure Effectiveness?

Although stakeholders in the field are beginning to agree upon a definition of excellent or accomplished teaching, how to precisely define and measure teacher effectiveness or success in the classroom is still under considerable debate. As Figure 1 demonstrates, teachers themselves are quite divided when it comes to how they believe their effectiveness should be measured; no one indicator of success in teaching was rated as excellent by a majority of teachers. Whether or not their students were engaged in coursework was the most popular indicator—92 percent thought it was either an excellent or good indicator. The least popular option was how well students perform on standardized tests, whereas one fourth of teachers thought that how well their students were learning compared with students in other schools was an excellent indicator.

Figure 1


Experience level seems to be related to the extent to which teachers are opposed to using particular measures of effectiveness. As Table 1 indicates, half of new teachers who have been teaching for less than five years think how well students perform on standardized tests is a fair or poor indicator, whereas only 32 percent of teachers who have been teaching more than 20 years agree. Less experienced teachers also are more likely to say that student engagement is a fair or poor measure of their success, and almost one third of teachers across all experience levels are leery of principal or other administrator evaluations.

Table 1


These data suggest that as states and districts design teacher evaluation systems that incorporate student achievement outcomes, they may want to recruit their most experienced teachers to help communicate reform ideas to their less seasoned colleagues. As described in an earlier analysis of these data, Retaining Teacher Talent: The View From Generation Y, Coggshall, Ott, Behrstock, and Lasagna (2010) conclude that Gen Y teachers seem to be more open to differentiating among themselves but are hesitant about using student achievement data.

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