Guide to Evaluation Products

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Evaluation Product Type:
Observations of Teachers and Principals

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Description

Observations of Teachers

This type of evaluation
  • Is used to measure observable classroom processes including specific teacher practices, aspects of instruction, and interactions between teachers and students.
  • Can measure broad, overarching aspects of teaching or subject-specific or context-specific aspects of practice.

Observations of Principals

This type of evaluation
  • Is used to measure observable behaviors or practices of school principals including such aspects as communication, ability to distribute leadership, instructional leadership and management, ability to read and convey performance data, and ability to provide feedback to teachers.
  • Can measure broad, overarching aspects of the day-to-day or context-specific aspects of various school leadership responsibilities that fall under the purview of a school administrator.

Research Base

Observations of Teachers

  • Some highly researched protocols have been found to link student achievement, though associations are sometimes modest. Research and validity findings are highly dependent on the instrument used, sampling procedures, and the training of raters. There is a lack of research on observation protocols as used in the context of teacher evaluation.

Observations of Principals

  • There is a lack of research on valid and reliable available principal observation protocols that are used to observe a principal in practice.

Strengths of This Evaluation Type

Observations of Teachers

This type of evaluation
  • Provides rich information about classroom behaviors and activities.
  • Is generally considered a fair and direct measure by stakeholders.
  • Can be used in various subjects, grades, and contexts, depending on the product.
  • Can provide useful information for formative and summative purposes.

Observations of Principals

This type of evaluation
  • Provides rich information about principal behaviors and practices.
  • Can be used to evaluate a principal in various contexts depending on the product.
  • Can provide useful information for formative and summative purposes.

Cautions on This Evaluation Type

Observations of Teachers

  • Careful attention must be paid to choosing or creating valid and reliable protocols and training and calibrating raters. Given the lack of research on existing observation instruments, adopters of this tool will want to closely monitor the use of observation instruments.
  • Classroom observation is expensive. Intensive training and calibrating of observers contributes heavily to the expense but is necessary for validity.
  • This method assesses observable classroom behaviors but is not as useful for assessing beliefs, feelings, intentions, or out-of-classroom activities.

Observations of Principals

  • Careful attention must be paid to choosing or creating valid and reliable protocols and training and calibrating raters. Given the lack of research on existing observation instruments, adopters of this tool will want to closely monitor the use of observation instruments.
  • The availability of valid principal observations is scarce. There are not many existing observation protocols that are designed to be used to evaluate or observe principal practice as opposed to teacher practice (e.g., classroom observations).
  • Principal observations should go beyond relying on “Yes” or “No” checklists and be used in conjunction with other forms of data (e.g., principal portfolios, 360-degree evaluations) and take into account the principal’s position or level of experience as well as the school context in which he or she is working in order to gain a full picture of principal practice.
  • Observation protocols should assess the specific behaviors and actions of a principal rather than just personality traits and be tied to a validated rubric and help inform professional development goals and growth plans.

Evaluation Products

Legend: Combination Models