Education Evaluations
4:00 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Researcher Tears Apart Gates Foundation Teacher Evaluation Study

Jay P. Greene says the Gates Foundation is ignoring its own data in concluding classroom observations should be part of teacher evaluations.
Jay P. Greene says the Gates Foundation is ignoring its own data in concluding classroom observations should be part of teacher evaluations.
Credit COMEDY_NOSE / FLICKR

University of Arkansas education professor Jay P. Greene has weighed in on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s conclusions about its teacher evaluation study.

Greene says the foundation’s conclusions were based on the politics of convincing teachers and school districts of the merits of evaluations, and not data. He takes particular aim at classroom observations, which he says the Gates data shows do not improve evaluations:

It’ll cost a fortune, it doesn’t improve the identification of effective teachers, but we need to do it to overcome resistance from teachers and others.  Not only will this not work, but in spinning the research as they have, the Gates Foundation is clearly distorting the straightforward interpretation of their findings: a mechanistic system of classroom observation provides virtually nothing for its enormous cost and hassle.  Oh, and this is the case when no stakes were attached to the classroom observations.  Once we attach all of this to pay or continued employment, their classroom observation system will only get worse…

So, rather than having “figured out what makes a good teacher” the Gates Foundation has learned very little in this project about effective teaching practices.  The project was an expensive flop.  Let’s not compound the error by adopting this expensive flop as the basis for centrally imposed, mechanistic teacher evaluation systems nationwide.

Hat tip to redefinED for noting Greene’s comments.

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