search cancel cancel-medium

New Report Released: "How Do Schools Respond to State Policies on Teacher Evaluation?"

April 27, 2017

A new study from the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans at Tulane University examines how post-Katrina teacher evaluation reforms were implemented in New Orleans publicly funded schools.

Researchers inter­viewed teach­ers and admin­is­tra­tors from eight local schools in 2015, as well as admin­is­tra­tors from char­ter man­age­ment orga­ni­za­tions, to exam­ine how teacher eval­u­a­tion prac­tices dif­fer across the city.

The eight schools vary wide­ly in their response to state teacher eval­u­a­tion law. Only three of the schools respond­ed to the state pol­i­cy by adopt­ing eval­u­a­tion tools and prac­tices to reflect on and improve instruc­tion­al prac­tice, while oth­ers either com­plied with the law in ways that did not encour­age reflec­tion or act­ed strate­gi­cal­ly to gar­ner more pos­i­tive eval­u­a­tion results.

The study’s authors found that respons­es were not relat­ed to whether the school was a char­ter or tra­di­tion­al pub­lic school. School eval­u­a­tion prac­tices were also unre­lat­ed to whether a school was part of the Recov­ery School Dis­trict or over­seen by the Orleans Parish School Board. How­ev­er, their analy­sis did iden­ti­fy two fac­tors that seemed to pro­mote more learn­ing-cen­tered approach­es to teacher evaluation.

Schools that mod­i­fied the state-rec­om­mend­ed eval­u­a­tion sys­tem were more like­ly to be reflec­tive in their respons­es, sug­gest­ing that the flex­i­bil­i­ty to adapt eval­u­a­tion pol­i­cy to local school needs and con­texts may increase orga­ni­za­tion­al learn­ing,” said lead author Julie Marsh. We also found that shared lead­er­ship and struc­tured time for teacher col­lab­o­ra­tion were asso­ci­at­ed with more reflec­tive respons­es, as they eased the bur­den on admin­is­tra­tors to observe, eval­u­ate, and sup­port teach­ers and encour­aged instruc­tion-focused conversations.”

This is impor­tant work giv­en the ongo­ing nation­al debate about the design of teacher and school account­abil­i­ty sys­tems. Sup­port­ers of statewide poli­cies on teacher eval­u­a­tion argue that hav­ing a more uni­form approach to eval­u­a­tion encour­ages gen­uine improve­ment for all teach­ers,” com­ment­ed ERA-New Orleans Direc­tor Dou­glas Har­ris, but crit­ics charge that indi­vid­ual school lead­ers can deter­mine the best eval­u­a­tion prac­tices for their schools and that state inter­fer­ence leads to less pro­duc­tive obser­va­tions. This study sug­gests that both sides make rea­son­able points.”

The study was authored by Julie Marsh, Susan Bush-Mece­nas, and Katharine Strunk from the Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, as well as Jane Arnold Lin­cove from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land-Bal­ti­more Coun­ty and Alice Huguet from North­west­ern University.

This paper is the sec­ond in a series of stud­ies released by the Edu­ca­tion Research Alliance for New Orleans that focus­es on New Orleans teach­ers. The first study in the series explored the effects of Louisiana’s teacher tenure reform. Forth­com­ing stud­ies exam­ine changes in teach­ers’ per­cep­tions of New Orleans schools from those who taught before and after Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na and how teach­ers in New Orleans pub­licly fund­ed schools are paid.