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ERIC Number: ED560621
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Nov
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Making Every Observation Meaningful: Addressing Lack of Variation in Teacher Evaluation Ratings. Policy Brief
Pratt, Tony
Tennessee Department of Education
This report describes an analysis by the Tennessee Department of Education's Office of Research and Policy that proposes a second quantitative metric for assessing the practicality and usefulness of the ratings that teacher evaluators are giving to the teachers they observe by looking at the range of ratings given. The idea of the "non-differentiating observer," or the observer whose ratings do not usefully distinguish between teachers' relative strengths and weaknesses is introduced. This metric highlights the need for evaluations to be useful for teachers as a tool for their own improvement, and it allows to assess evaluator performance in an ongoing way during the year. The report identifies the number of non-differentiating observers, where they are located, and whether any particular characteristics predict whether an observer will be non-differentiating. It is the hope that this paper will both contribute to the process of continuous improvement to the teacher evaluation system in Tennessee and help other states, districts, and schools think critically about their own processes for assessing observer quality. Key findings include: (1) Observers whose ratings do not provide teachers with a range of feedback on strengths and weaknesses are failing to provide the kind of usable information that might lead to instructional improvement; (2) In Tennessee, "non-differentiating observers" make up a small but meaningful proportion of the total evaluator pool; (3) Non-differentiating observers are not clustered in particular areas but are scattered throughout the state and across all types of observers; (4) The real-time observation data collected by the Tennessee evaluation system can allow districts and the state to identify non-differentiating observers during the year and to take steps to ensure that teachers are receiving meaningful feedback; and (5) Non-differentiation is one of several indicators of low observation quality, and non-differentiating observers are not necessarily the same observers who fail to achieve reasonable alignment between observation and value-added ratings.
Tennessee Department of Education. Andrew Johnson Tower 6th Floor, Nashville, TN 37243-0375. Tel: 615-741-2731; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Tennessee Department of Education
Identifiers - Location: Tennessee