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Traditional Approaches to Teacher Evaluation

    Traditional Teacher Evaluation

    • The traditional method of teacher evaluation consists of a performance review. This review is administered by the principal of the school or another school administrator who visits the teacher's classroom while class is in session and observes his teaching methods and interactions with students. Researchers and educators such as Charlotte Danielson, an internationally recognized expert on teacher evaluation systems, have come to refer to the traditional evaluation method as "drive-by evaluation," arguing that the standards are arbitrary, the evaluators are untrained and the classroom visit is too short to permit accurate judgment of teacher performance.

    Performance Standards

    • The teacher evaluator typically completes a checklist of performance standards during the classroom visit. The checklist often consists of items such as "class starts on time," "classroom is safe" and "teacher is dressed appropriately" with options for checking either "satisfactory" or "not satisfactory." Evaluators may provide additional written comments as they deem necessary.

    Evaluator Qualifications

    • The individual performing teacher evaluations is typically the principal of the school or another school administrator. The evaluator does not receive any formal training in evaluation methods before completing teacher evaluations. Educators and researchers who disagree with the use of traditional evaluation methods argue that evaluators are reluctant to issue unsatisfactory ratings to teachers even when they deserve them--a 2007 New Teacher Project study found that 87 percent of Chicago's 600 schools did not assign a single unsatisfactory teacher evaluation, even though 69 of the schools surveyed were declared to be "failing" schools by the city.

    Professional Development

    • The traditional method of teacher evaluation consists of a classroom visit followed by either a recommendation to continue teaching or termination of the teacher's contract. Evaluators rarely discuss ways to improve teaching effectiveness and student achievement with teachers; in fact, according to Toch and Rothman (2008), evaluators often do not discuss evaluation results with teachers at all unless requested by the teacher.



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