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Donald Medley, Homer Coker, and Robert Soar (1984) describe succinctly the modern history of formal teacher evaluation–that period from the turn of the twentieth century to about 1980. This history might be divided into three overlapping periods: (1) The Search for Great Teachers; (2) Inferring Teacher Quality from Student Learning; and (3) Examining Teaching Performance. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, teacher evaluation appears to be entering a new phase of disequilibrium; that is, a transition to a period of Evaluating Teaching as Professional Behavior. The Search for Great Teachers began in earnest in 1896 with the report of a study conducted by H.E. Kratz. Kratz asked 2,411 students from the second through the eighth grades in Sioux City, Iowa, to describe the characteristics of their best teachers. Kratz thought that by making desirable characteristics explicit he could establish a benchmark against which all teachers might be judged. Some 87 percent of those young Iowans mentioned “helpfulness” as the most important teacher characteristic. But a stunning 58 percent mentioned “personal appearance” as the next most influential factor.
Arvil Barr’s 1948 compendium of research on teaching competence noted that supervisors’ ratings of teachers were the metric of choice. A few researchers, however, examined average gains in student achievement for the purpose of Inferring Teacher Quality from Student Learning. They assumed, for good reason, that supervisors’ opinions of teachers revealed little or nothing about student learning. Indeed, according to Medley and his colleagues, these early findings were “most discouraging.” The average correlation between teacher characteristics and student learning, as measured most often by achievement tests, was zero. Some characteristics related positively to student achievement gains in one study and negatively in another study. Most showed no relation at all. Simeon J. Domas and David Tiedeman (1950) reviewed more than 1,000 studies of teacher characteristics, defined in nearly every way imaginable, and found no clear direction for evaluators. Jacob Getzels and Philip Jackson (1963) called once and for all for an end to research and evaluation aimed at linking teacher characteristics to student learning, arguing it was an idea without merit.
Medley and his colleagues note several reasons for the failure of early efforts to judge teachers by student outcomes. First, student achievement varied, and relying on average measures of achievement masked differences. Second, researchers failed to control for the regression effect in student achievement–extreme high and low scores automatically regress toward the mean in second administrations of tests. Third, achievement tests were, for a variety of reasons, poor measures of student success. Perhaps most important, as the researchers who ushered in the period of Examining Teaching Performance were to suggest, these early approaches were conceptually inadequate, and even misleading. Student learning as measured by standardized achievement tests simply did not depend on a teacher’s education, intelligence, gender, age, personality, attitudes, or any other personal attribute. What mattered was how teachers behaved when they were in classrooms.
The period of Examining Teaching Performance abandoned efforts to identify desirable teacher characteristics and concentrated instead on identifying effective teaching behaviors; that is, those behaviors that were linked to student learning. The tack was to describe clearly and precisely teaching behaviors and relate them to student learning–as measured most often by standardized achievement test scores. In rare instances, researchers conducted experiments for the purpose of arguing that certain teaching behaviors actually caused student learning. Like Kratz a century earlier, these investigators assumed that “principles of effective teaching” would serve as new and improved benchmarks for guiding both the evaluation and education of teachers. Jere Brophy and Thomas Good produced the most conceptually elaborate and useful description of this work in 1986, while Marjorie Powell and Joseph Beard’s 1984 extensive bibliography of research done from 1965 to 1980 is a useful reference.
The work of John Meyer and Brian Rowan (1977) suggests that there are yet other goals driving the structure and function of teacher evaluation systems. If school leaders intend to maintain public confidence and support, they must behave in ways that assure their constituents and the public at large that they are legitimate. Schools must innovate to be healthy organizations, but if school leaders get too far ahead of the pack–look too different, behave too radically–they do so at their own peril. When they incorporate acceptable ideas, schools protect themselves. The idea that teachers must be held accountable, or in some way evaluated, is an easy one to sell to the public, and thus one that enhances a leader’s or system’s legitimacy. Local study
On the study of G.C. Manonson from Eastern Mindoro College (1989) the result states that “It is important that administrators try hard to find ways to enhance the development of positive job attitude; to think of building teachers’ strength rather than try to overcome their weaknesses, to provide them with opportunities in which they experience success through challenging tasks suited to their capabilities or those in which they are interested, and to be sincere in the commendation they give for work well done” On the study of Ma. C. B. Niñalga from I. B. Calingansan Memorial Institution (1989), “At this point, our focus on educational evaluation is restricted to pupil evaluation; it concentrates on the pupil as an individual and as a member of a classroom unit.
Such evaluation has two purposes: (1) to help the teacher determine the degree to which educational objectives have been achieved, and (2) to help the teacher know his pupils as individuals. The first purpose is basic; changes in behavior are always evaluated in terms of the goals of education. The second purpose is subsidiary to the first since, naturally, if the teacher is intimately familiar with his pupils, he will be better able to plan educational experience for then and determine degrees to which educational objectives have been achieved. It is important to realize this fundamental relation between the two purposes. In practice, information on the degree of achievement of educational objectives is always augmented by additional information on the pupil’s earlier interests, values, aptitudes, and achievements. Thus the second purpose supports the first.”