NCTQ on States’ Teacher Evaluation Systems’ Failures, Again

In February of 2017, the controversial National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) — created by the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute and funded (in part) by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as “part of a coalition for ‘a better orchestrated agenda’ for accountability, choice, and using test scores to drive the evaluation of teachers” (see here) — issued a report about states’ teacher evaluation systems titled: “Running in Place: How New Teacher Evaluations Fail to Live Up to Promises.” See another blog post about a similar (and also slanted) study NCTQ conducted two years prior here. The NCTQ recently published another — a “State of the States: Teacher & Principal Evaluation Policy.” Like I did in those two prior posts, I summarize this report, only as per their teacher evaluation policy findings and assertions, below.

  • In 2009, only 15 states required objective measures of student growth (e.g., VAMs) in teacher evaluations; by 2015 this number increased nearly threefold to 43 states. However, as swiftly as states moved to make these changes, many of them have made a hasty retreat. Now there are 34 states requiring such measures. These modifications to these nine states’ evaluation systems are “poorly supported by research literature” which, of course, is untrue. Of note, as well, is that there are no literature cited to support this very statement.
  • For an interesting and somewhat interactive chart capturing what states are doing in the areas of their teacher and principal evaluation systems, however, you might want to look at NCTQ’s Figure 3 (again, within the full report, here). Not surprisingly, NCTQ subtotals these indicators by state and essentially categorizes states by the extent to which they have retreated from such “research-backed policies.”
    • You can also explore states’ laws, rules, and regulations, that range from data about teacher preparation, licensing, and evaluation to data about teacher compensation, professional development, and dismissal policies via NCTQ’s State Teacher Policy Database here.
  • Do states use data from state standardize tests to evaluate their teachers? See the (promising) evidence of states backing away from research-backed policies here (as per NCTQ’s Figure 5):
  • Also of interest is the number of states in which student surveys are being used to evaluate teachers, which is something reportedly trending across states, but perhaps not so much as currently thought (as per NCTQ’s Figure 9).
  • The NCTQ also backs the “research-backed benefits” of using such surveys, primarily (and again not surprisingly) in that they correlate (albeit at very weak-to-weak magnitudes) with the more objective measures (e.g., VAMs) still being pushed by the NCTQ. The NCTQ also, entirely, overlooks the necessary conditions required to make the data derived from student surveys, as well as their use, “reliable and valid” as over-simplistically claimed.

The rest of the report includes the NCTQ’s findings and assertions regarding states’ principal evaluation systems. If these are of interest, please scroll to the lower part of the document, again, available here.

Citation: Ross, E. & Walsh, K. (2019). State of the States 2019: Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policy. Washington, DC: National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).

Racing to Nowhere: Ways Teacher Evaluation Reform Devalues Teachers

In a recent blog (see here), I posted about a teacher evaluation brief written by Alyson Lavigne and Thomas Good for Division 15 of the American Psychological Association (see here). There, Lavigne and Good voiced their concerns about inadequate teacher evaluation practices that did not help teachers improve instruction, and they described in detail the weaknesses of testing and observation practices used in current teacher evaluation practices.

In their book, Enhancing Teacher Education, Development, and Evaluation, they discuss other factors which diminish the value of teachers and teaching. They note that for decades many various federal documents, special commissions, summits, and foundation reports periodically issue reports that blatantly assert (with limited or no evidence) that American schools and teachers are tragically flawed and at times the finger has even been pointed at our students (e.g., A Nation at Risk chided students for their poor effort and performance). These reports, ranging from the Sputnik fear to the Race to the Top crisis, have pointed to an immediate and dangerous crisis. The cause of the crisis: Our inadequate schools that places America at scientific, military, or economic peril. 

Given the plethora of media reports that follow these pronouncements of school crises (and pending doom) citizens are taught at least implicitly that schools are a mess, but the solutions are easy…if only teachers worked hard enough. Thus, when reforms fail, many policy makers scapegoat teachers as inadequate or uncaring. Lavigne and Good contend that these sweeping reforms (and their failures) reinforce the notion that teachers are inadequate. As the authors note, most teachers do an excellent job in supporting student growth and that they should be recognized for this accomplishment. In contrast, and unfortunately, teachers are scapegoated for conditions (e.g., poverty) that they cannot control.

They reiterate (and effectively emphasize) that an unexplored collateral damage (beyond the enormous cost and wasted resources of teachers and administrators) is the impact that sweeping and failed reform has upon citizens’ willingness to invest in public education. Policy makers and the media must recognize that teachers are competent and hard working and accomplish much despite the inadequate conditions in which they work.

Read more here: Enhancing Teacher Education, Development, and Evaluation