How to fairly evaluate teachers based on student performance

One of the commenters (#10) in a previous post, discussed his experiences in RSD205 to simply point out that looking at the individual educational needs of each child is the only way to maximize their abilities. His suggestions also lead to a method to fairly evaluate teachers based on student performance, even though the students have different abilities.

He commented:

Instead of focusing on the average test scores of the class, school or district, why not spend that energy comparing each student’s grades over the years? See if each individual child’s progression is satisfactory. THEN you can tell which teachers are getting the job done.

You can’t use any given year as a guide due to anomalies that will occur, but you could sure find trends pretty easily. The school already has all of the data for doing this – maybe they are already doing it and just not sharing the results?

I have never received feedback regarding my children’s test results year over year but it has been pretty easy to keep the records in our home – and very informative. How can this data not be provided by the school system?

This is not only an excellent suggestion for individual students to reach their full potential, as my post had suggested, but it would be an answer to the dilemma of how to fairly evaluate the teacher based on student performance.

Since students have different abilities and are at different levels of achievement upon arriving at their new class each year, the trend of each student’s yearly progress would provide an initial base to see if improvement for that student was made during the year.

The district could also assess the student’s achievement with respect to state standards. Each student’s annual performance improvement, regardless of the level at which they started the year, would be reviewed for teacher evaluation.

Since the district has spent millions upgrading their computer system recently – a data system analysis could be run on each individual student, providing a longitudinal feedback to the parents on their child’s year over year improvement, while providing subsequent teachers the student’s performance trend needed for assessment and evaluation.

That would be fair, don’t you think?



  1. Yes, Ted. But then teachers must have more power in choosing methods and materials. Last year’s emphasis on guided reading allowed teachers to ability group readers, start where the child was and lead him/her forward. This year 205 has a one-size fits all reading series that frustrates all students who are reading below grade level. And in one class that I am aware of that is over 80% of the class. These poor children are looking like deer in headlights as they stare at material that they cannot read and are told to do their best on a test. Is that fair?

  2. kevind1986

    Thanks for the kudos, but you are the ringleader bringing these ideas to the fore. Thank you for that. (and it doesn’t matter one whit – but your she is a he)

  3. Ted Biondo

    Sorry Kevin but I got your comments mixed up with someone else’s comment. I will correct it because I want this to be in the printed version of the paper and I don’t want any errors. Again thanks for the great comment.

  4. Ted Biondo

    Kidssake – no that’s not fair. That’s why we need to keep honors and gifted. These kids would also look like deer in the headlights if they had to stand around waiting for some of the 80% to catch up with their reading skills. One size definitely does not fit all.

  5. Amen, Ted, amen!

  6. readingmike94

    in terms of state standards we are now moving to national core standards and they exist only for marth/reading/lang arts. how would you evaluate in terms of art? how about music? would pe be based on improvement or if you could meet the standards for physical fitness (ie the presidential award?) who would create the test? what would stop the teacher from merely teaching to the test? how would you evaluate the state goal one in reading reads with fluency?

  7. Ted Biondo

    From Kidssake Dec. 26

    Ted: Thank you! Lots to ponder….

    Yes, teachers must be evaluated. They always have been. Currently a Danielson model is used. Four areas are judged: Planning & Preparation, Classroom Environment, Instruction, and Professional Responsibilities. I could see a fifth: Student Growth added.

    Principals do not have tenure. They are caught in the middle. One that I know of was told to tell staff not to teach social studies and science but then was told to tell staff to give grades in those subjects one week before grades were due. This is one example of the craziness in District 205 in 2010.

    I must disagree with “teaching to the test is all some students can absorb”. Students who can not read well often do wonderfully with the scientific method and hands on science experiments. They shine with their thinking skills. Children in grade school need exposure to all areas, in my opinion.

    Social promotion, yes…too often. I would support a test at each grade and if the students do not pass, they do not pass. Connect the LINK card to student performance and you might see parents suddenly become involved. Many already know that if their child gets special ed. eligibility they can get more money. How about more money for achievement????? I also believe that many students would benefit from a public boarding school. Provide food, rest, clean clothes, nurturing & tutoring from Sunday night until Friday afternoon and some children would begin to excel. If the basic needs are not met, and often they are not, children will not thrive.

    I hope I have given some positive suggestions. I believe in being proactive, not whining. BUT you must know that the present situation in 205 is not proactive….it is TOP-DOWN intimidation, not a good environment for anyone involved.

    ? Prayers for a change in 2011.

  8. Ted Biondo

    From Kidssake – Dec. 26

    Mike: Many teachers are told to only teach to the test now. Some teachers are told not to teach science or social studies since those areas are not tested. I am concerned that arts & PE courses will go as budgets get tighter. There are fluency (word/minute) tests with the new Pearson series as well as subjective rubrics that are used to evaluate fluency. Education, as we knew it, has changed drastically since NCLB. (And, in my opinion, not for the better.)

  9. Ted Biondo

    From Readingmike94 Dec 26

    the finger we dont want to point at is teacher education programs at university level every single every single univ and college in the state of illinois got a D in how they prepare teachers . if you read the atlantic finland and other nations ahead of us have better teacher prep programs so is it the teachers or higher education which is to blame? if we have this discussion look at universities and colleges esp in illinois

  10. Denny Wallace

    As far as”… But then teachers must have more power in choosing methods and materials…”

    If all Teachers are teaching with the same materials those that make the most of it are doing a better Teaching Jobs.

    However, yes I agree Teachers must have more say over Teaching methods and Teaching materials… BUT HOW COME THEY NEVER MADE ANY SPECIFIC CONTRACT DEMANDS DURING TEACHING NEGOTIATIONS?

  11. Denny Wallace

    “….how would you evaluate in terms of art? how about music? …”

    How do you evaluate Kids in Art, Music and PE Today?

    Are you suggesting the grades kids receive today are arbitrary and have little relationship to serious assessment standards?

  12. Denny Wallace

    This kind of Urban Legend nonsense drives me crazy “…Principals do not have tenure. They are caught in the middle. One that I know of was told to tell staff not to teach social studies and science but then was told to tell staff to give grades in those subjects one week before grades were due. This is one example of the craziness in District 205 in 2010….”

    This example could be true and factual but who are we crapping that Highly paid Principals, most well over $100K can’t stand up and do there job!

    Managers are paid big bucks because they are expected to pursue what is RIGHT not just what they were ordered or told to do.

    Forget this nonsense that Principals ALL live in fear of loosing thier jobs… That is certainly more BS then factual…

    In todays world, Managers aren’t fired on a Whim and besides their Peers should be willing to stand up and be counted in someone was fired without cause… Forget the fear mongering…

    Simply pursue what is right and honest and the rest takes care of itself…

  13. Denny Wallace

    “….what would stop the teacher from merely teaching to the test?…”

    First answer… In Todays Schools WHAT WOULD STOP the Teacher from doing anything they want in the classroom? Teach to the test or anything else they chose to do regardless what the Principal thought or the School District Policy states……

    “…Yes, teachers must be evaluated. They always have been…. Four areas are judged: Planning & Preparation, Classroom Environment, Instruction, and Professional Responsibilities….”

    Planning and Preperation – Easy to look good on paper but how on earth do we really know if 2,000 + Teachers are delivering Lesson Plans as prepared? i.e. Do they work as intended you know ASSESSMENTS?

    Classroom Environment – How the heck is this meaningfully measured or assessed over an entire school year… again with only 50-60 Principals trying to “check-up on” 2,000 Teachers?

    Instruction – Do we really think this can be assessed by 3-4 classoom visits per School Year? Do the math, A Principal would have to evaluate ALMOST one Teacher everyday of the school year to complete 3-4 Teacher evaluations for each Teacher reporting to them.

    Professional Responsibilities – Sounds impressive but how is this measured in a meaningful way?

    Teachers have always been evaluated? Who are we crappin that what we have called “evaluations” has really done anything significantly to identify Teacher Performance Problem… Let alone if anything was could we rally do anything about changing it?

  14. readingmike94

    so silence from denny and others on it really falls upon teacher education programs that is the weak link and nobody wants to touch it

  15. Denny: Once again a long winded opinion based blog stopper using the word \"crappin\"? I was appreciating the dialogue, Ted & Mike, but Denny is too much.

  16. Kevind1986

    Back to the original point. (And there has never been testing for PE or Art that can compare one student to the other – so let’s not use that to muddy the waters).

    The data is already available for checking the longer term effectiveness of the teachers. A 3-5 year view would probably be needed and would compare the percentile rankings of the students in a given classroom to the rankings of their district and state peers. The peaks and valleys of individual students would be almost eliminated.

    One could then also check how each student’s percentiles varied under that student’s other teachers.

    I could run this analysis on Excel for cripes sake – any district data pusher could set it up in a day.

    So – why isn’t it being done?

  17. readingmike94

    ok 1. what about home ec, driver’s ed, vocational ed teachers ie shop,? if we take your arguement you evaluate all players on a baseball team how are you going to evaluate all teachers? you cannot just judge the first and third baseman for example
    2. if i take your premise and evaluate me vs teachers in say town x then we have to have a statewide curriculum, the same textbook, the same instructional resources ie same technology in the classroom, same workbooks etc to make the apple to apple comparison 3. what testing would we use each school in the state would need to have the same testing ie the isat would not do it you would need a normed test and a test for each subject matter one for econ etc so you would need a state test for each subject matter and in this comparison i wont muddy the water a test for econ test for us history etc and that test would need to be the same and normed to make percentile ranking comparisons
    so who is going to do this all you need to have uniform agreement throughout the state and you would need to get private schools on board to make how are we compared to boylan, charter school comparisons it is only fair you cannot bash public schools if private and alternative schools cannot make the cut either and lastly why the sacred cows why arent we looking at teacher prep programs at the university level the single most important factor in how a teacher performs look it up all illinois college and univ got a d so why not the huge public outcry ted and denny and others?

  18. http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/showthread.php?t=9712

    Kevin: you might find the above comparison of teachers and dentists interesting. 🙂

  19. Kevind1986

    Kidssake – Whereas that parable will probably be used by many, many people interestetd in confusing the issue, do you really and truly find it to be an apt comparison? The dentist merely repairs damage done by the individual once or twice a year whereas the teacher should be interacting with the student daily and is charged with keeping the “holes” from happening. A dentist can’t do that. But I’ll assume you were being intentionally factetious and leave it at that.

    Again – do the comparison over a few years and also across several teachers. If three teachers show a tendency to improve the percentile ranking of a group of kids while one teacher tends not to, shouldn’t we be looking at the teacher who doesn’t and ask why?

    You don’t want to seem to take into account that the data would allow us to compare each teacher’s impact across several groups of students, thus prohibiting a teacher from being blamed for a less than average group of kids.

    The alternative is to not hold teachers accountable – and that is just unacceptable.

    Or how about a compromise – institute the program for five years just to observe what type of data comes out of it, with no recourse against the teachers. Then study the output and see if it is worth continuing the program. It could even be done anonymously with indexed codes for the teachers and students.

    Heck – give me the data and I’ll do this in my spare time. It isn’t rocket science.

  20. Ted Biondo

    Kidssake – loved the analogy with the dentist. I will probably use that in the future for something, but Kevin does bring up a good point.

    Let’s use the dentist anaogy. Lets measure the cavities of the wealthy against the wealthy throughout the dentist kingdom. Also, measure the cavities, etc. of the poor against the poor to establish a baseline in both cases throughout an area.

    Therefore, a comparison of one dentist to another may be made against the standard of the patients they serve. That’s what must be done with the teachers in classrooms across the area.

    There has to be accountability, regardless of how hard it is, but Kevin’s suggestions are at least a fair starting point.

  21. Ted: agreed….compare apples to apples….no problem there….:) Unfortunately this administration doesn’t recognize that there are oranges and pears mixed in with the apples.

  22. readingmike94

    percentile ranking on what test kevin? and how are you going to compare to make these lab type decisions you going to give each teacher the same technology the same text book the same resouces? and are you going to compare x schoool district to y school district if so you need to make the comparisons equal same length of school day same instructional resources same curriculum etc are you willing to make that investment? and you still havent answered the core question what instrument are you using to make this comparison there lies that thorny issue name the testing instrument that can give you percentile rankings and a normative sample
    this all sounds good and makes for good sound bites but simply does not exist a test to measure and compare x with y percentil norm sample groupings for each grade and unless you give each school teacher the same curriculum etc you cannot compare school districts and unless you make private schools follow and give the same test you cannot compare public to private and to charter unless you are willing to do that it is so much hot air

  23. Ted Biondo

    readingmike94 – do we really need to compare one distrcit to another? Should we? – I think not! The complaint would then be the dentist scenario – not a level comparison – wealthy to poor, etc. etc. What about the tons of assessment tests that are designed to show where the students need help – would that be preferable to standardized tests such as the ISAT. Please don’t tell me that there is not a method to measure the results of the teachers in the classroom -I know for a fact that all teachers are not equal – and neither should their pay be equal at a given lane or step!

    Businesses don’t give evaluations in their company on the basis of what is done in another company.Total raises maybe, but not who gets the raise and who gets nothing and the criterion for the evaluations are different. The raises aren’t divided between districts, but in one district because that’s where the education funding is collected. If teachers don’t like the way one district is doing evaluations, or the pay is too low, then go to another district and teach, just like we must do in the business world – the world isn’t fair, nor level – Columbus find that out!

    You need only compare teachers in one district to other teachers in the same district – that would be fairer and make more sense. Teachers are not going to all get the same raise anymore on the same step and lane and seniority – you will have to compete wth the other teachers in your own district – that makes it much simpler than your examples.

    You are trying to make it too hard and bring in too many variables. Let’s keep the evaluation between teachers in one distrct at a time and to one evaluation criterion in a differentiated instruction environment of Dr. Sheffield.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *