In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Teacher Evaluation and Teacher Effectiveness

  • Introduction
  • Purposes of Teacher Evaluation
  • International Policy and Research Reports
  • US Policy and Research Reports
  • Textbooks on Teacher Effectiveness and Teacher Evaluation
  • Early Models of Teacher Evaluation
  • Contemporary Models of Teacher Evaluation
  • Measuring Teacher Effectiveness
  • Value-Added Models in Teacher Evaluation
  • Teacher Observation in Teacher Evaluation
  • Impacts of Teacher Evaluation on Teacher Quality

Education Teacher Evaluation and Teacher Effectiveness
James H. Stronge, Leslie W. Grant, Xianxuan Xu
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 July 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 July 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0138


Teacher evaluation has evolved over time from focusing on the moral values of a teacher in the early 1900s to standards-based evaluation models of today that seek to include measures of student academic progress. Often, teacher evaluation systems seek to serve two needs: accountability and improvement. Changes in teacher evaluation have been influenced by political winds as well as a desire to create systems that are fair and balanced. This article begins with an overview of the purposes of teacher evaluation. Next, often-cited international and US policy and research reports as well as foundational textbooks related to teacher effectiveness and teacher evaluation are highlighted. The article then provides an overview of early models of teacher evaluation focused on the roles and responsibilities of a teacher and the evolution to contemporary models of teacher evaluation with a focus on a standards-based and/or outcomes-based approach to evaluation. The next section highlights seminal works that emerged in measuring teacher effectiveness as well as value-added models to support an outcomes-based approach by including student academic progress as part of evaluation. Including student outcomes has been the topic of intense discussion as policymakers and researchers debate the validity of the use of student test scores in terms of value-added modeling and other growth models. Researchers do not agree on the stability of such models and whether they do differentiate between effective and less effective teachers. Research will continue to inform and enrich this debate and discussion. Teacher observation remains a critical part of the evaluation process and the article provides a historical overview of common practices and challenges of teacher observation. Finally, works that illuminate impacts of teacher evaluation are provided, including texts and reports related to teacher growth and development, teacher retention, and teacher compensation.

Purposes of Teacher Evaluation

Teacher evaluation that is intended to be productive and actionable must address either teacher growth and support, the quality of teacher performance, or both. In essence, teacher evaluation can and should consider purposes for helping teachers improve their performance as well as providing accountable for their work. While other teacher evaluation purposes are identified periodically (e.g., school improvement), the most commonly accepted purposes for teacher evaluation are: (1) supporting teacher personal and professional growth that leads to improved and sustained quality performance, and (2) documenting results of teaching practices for reporting and accountability. There is considerable discussion and little agreement in the extant literature regarding whether both purposes can and should be achieved within the same performance evaluation system. One point of agreement is that regardless of the purpose— teacher professional growth or teacher accountability—the intended purpose(s) of teacher evaluation must be actionable if evaluation is to a worthwhile endeavor. Earlier publications—Peterson 2000, Gordon 2006, and Stronge 2006—posit the rationale for a connection among evaluation of teacher performance, teacher growth and development, and school improvement. A case for using evaluation for the purpose of accountability, or teacher dismissal, more specifically, is made in Chait 2010. A case for using evaluation for the purposes of teacher development is described in Donaldson and Peske 2010. Crowe 2010 argues that the first evaluation of a teacher occurs in her teacher education program and that we should have a strong accountability system for teacher education programs to make sure the graduates have the knowledge and skills to be effective with students. Huber and Skedsmo 2016 frames the primary purposes of teacher evaluation as formative (teacher growth and support) and summative (teacher accountability). A report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, Gerber 2019 advocates for teacher evaluation designs that help teachers improve their practice and support distribution of teacher quality equitably across schools.

  • Chait, Robin. 2010. Removing chronically ineffective teachers: Barriers and opportunities. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.

    Chait recognizes that teachers have a tremendous impact on student achievement and that teachers vary greatly in their effectiveness. This report focuses on one critical piece in the human capital systems in school—the dismissal of chronically ineffective teachers. The challenges in removing teachers who are persistently ineffective and fail to improve even with intensive support over time are described.

  • Crowe, Edward. 2010. Measuring what matters: A stronger accountability model for teacher education. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.

    Crowe extends the argument of accountability and teacher evaluation into the sector of teacher preparation. He maintains that teacher education programs should serve as a real quality control and use empirically based indicators to measure the extent to which graduates help their students learn.

  • Donaldson, Morgaen L., and Heather G. Peske. 2010. Supporting effective teaching through teacher evaluation: A study of teacher evaluation in five charter schools. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.

    This text reports findings from a study of teacher evaluation practices in five charter schools. The authors find that a rigorous teacher evaluation system can influence teachers’ instructional capabilities in a positive way.

  • Gerber, Nicole. 2019. Teacher evaluation that’s meaningful. Washington, DC: National Council on Teacher Quality.

    This report provides a short review of teacher evaluation trends and practices in the United States that directly or indirectly are related to making the purposes of teacher evaluation meaningful. Included in the review are findings related to teacher evaluation rating categories, frequency of evaluations, use of observations, evaluation components, and student growth measures.

  • Gordon, Stephen P. 2006. Teacher evaluation and professional development. In Evaluating teaching: A guide to current thinking and best practice. 2d ed. Edited by James H. Stronge, 268–290. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

    DOI: 10.4135/9781412990202.d105

    Gordon makes a case for the alignment among teacher evaluation, professional development, and school improvement goals—with all aspects moving toward the same common denominator of improving student learning.

  • Huber, Stephan G., and Guri Skedsmo. 2016. Teacher evaluation—accountability and improving teaching practices. Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Accountability 28:105–109.

    DOI: 10.1007/s11092-016-9241-1

    This journal article discusses the importance of both teacher growth and teacher accountability as important purposes for teacher evaluation. The authors frame their review and arguments in terms of formative (ongoing growth orientation) and summative (accountability orientation) purposes of teacher evaluation.

  • Peterson, Kenneth D. 2000. Teacher evaluation: A comprehensive guide to new directions and practices. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

    This book recognizes that the evaluation of teachers is a complex activity. It provides an examination of the many purposes of teacher evaluation. The purposes include to protect children, provide feedback to teachers regarding the quality of their practice, reassure audiences who are stakeholders in quality teaching, make personnel decisions, inform teacher educators, and shape future practice.

  • Stronge, James H. 2006. Teacher evaluation and school improvement: Improving the educational landscape. In Evaluating teaching: A guide to current thinking and best practice. 2d ed. Edited by James H. Stronge, 1–23. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

    DOI: 10.4135/9781412990202.d4

    In this book chapter, Stronge suggests that a conceptually sound and properly implemented evaluation system for teachers is a vital component of successful reform efforts. The chapter discusses key features of effective teacher evaluation systems and offers one model for designing a quality teacher evaluation system for school improvement and teacher growth.

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