New Teacher Evaluation Findings Released by Gate’s Foundation

According to the three-year Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) study project, a balanced use of three indicators provides a strong predictor of teacher effectiveness on student achievement.

The $45 million study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which involved 3,000 teachers in seven cities across the U.S, reports that giving equal weight to student standardized test scores, student evaluations of teachers, and teacher observations by multiple peers, most accurately predicts which teachers are most effective.

“If you select the right measures, you can provide teachers with an honest assessment of where they stand in their practice, that, hopefully, will serve as the launching point for their development,” said Thomas J. Kane, a professor of education in economics at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who led the study.

“We identified groups of teachers who caused students to learn more, and that’s a big deal,” Kane said. (Quote from Education Week)

In the first year of the study, the teachers were videotaped and evaluated using the three indicators. The use of student-perception surveys was weighed equally with the other two indicators, as those leading the study believe students – as direct beneficiaries of the “product” of teaching – are an important source of information on teaching quality and classroom environment. The survey asked students how strongly they agreed with statements like; “My teacher seems to know if something is bothering me,” “In this class we learn to correct our mistakes,” and “My teacher wants us to share our thoughts.”  (Click here to download the MET brief, Asking Students About Teaching)

After ranking the teachers using this data, students were randomly assigned to the teachers and their progress was followed and measured over the next two years. The study found that the higher-ranked teachers were able to affect higher student achievement with different students.

The American Federation of Teachers, which is not always supportive of the Gates Foundation’s work, finds value in the study’s latest findings. In a released statement, AFT President Randi Weingarten said, “The MET finding reinforce the importance of evaluating teachers based on a balance of multiple measures of teaching effectiveness, in contrast to the limitations of focusing on student test scores, value-added scores, or any other single measure.”

(Sources: Education Week, Vol. 32, Issue 17; Wall Street Journal, 1-8-13; and the Washington Post, 1-8-13)

Click here to download the MET Study report.