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Using Learning Outcomes for Teacher Performance and Development

April 18, 2013

Student learning gains, as measured by scores on pretests and post tests, are increasingly being used to evaluate educator performance. Known as “value-added” measuring, student gains are often the primary factor used to select educational staff for rewards or sanctions.

So… is that the best way to evaluate them? And what’s the best way to improve upon their effectiveness?

With regards to furthering teacher effectiveness, research demonstrates that experience greatly enhances the productivity of teachers, while advanced degrees are not correlated with their productivity. Interestingly, there is no evidence that education majors are significantly more productive as teachers than non-education majors. This suggests that current salary schedules, which are based in part on educational attainment, may not be an efficient way to compensate teachers.

The research also shows that only content-oriented professional development coursework appears effective. According to Dr. Linda Darling‐Hammond, the quality of teachers has the greatest impact on nurturing cognitive abilities, developing knowledge, and increasing motivation of students. Dr. Harold Wenglinsky has also noted that improving teaching quality is an effective way to improve students’ academic achievement.

How exactly can we have a meaningful teacher performance evaluation system that incorporates student learning outcomes as a primary factor in teacher performance? An accurate method of measurement, assessment and evaluation is needed.

To achieve a “value added” teaching evaluation, curricula should be designed to allow teachers to measure knowledge gaps and assess learning progress. Meanwhile, the Dean or Program Chair can use defined criteria to evaluate the results—and the quality of the learning outcomes that reflect upon the teacher—by using performance-based assessments based on the following:

  • Integrating assessment and instruction in ways that support learning outcomes
  • Integrating competencies and skills with learning outcomes and instruction in ways that support employers’ needs for specific careers and jobs
  • Using assessments that match the learning outcomes and format of instruction in ways that support instructional goals
  • Using results in ways that support curricular goals and the effectiveness of methods of instruction

In short, to improve teacher performance, one should first establish which criteria will indicate progress and what methods will be used to measure them. Any deficiencies in the quality of instruction or content can be identified, and a plan for corrective action can be constructed and implemented.

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