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Evaluating America’s Teachers

Evaluating America’s Teachers
Mission Possible?

June 2013 | 200 pages | Corwin
W. James Popham, one of the country's foremost experts in education measurement and evaluation, proposes a commonsense approach to teacher evaluation that utilizes the expertise and professional judgment of master teachers. In this groundbreaking book, Popham:

Discusses the strengths and weaknesses of common evaluation systems such as testing, value-added models, and classroom observations

Describes a teacher evaluation system based on collegial judgment, in which experienced educators are trained and certified to evaluate teacher performance

Provides cases and examples of how collegial judgment represents the most fair, accurate, and rigorous approach to teacher evaluation

1. What Underlies the Tightening of Today's Teacher-Evaluation Programs?
What Uncle Sam Wants

A Federal Vision of Teacher Evaluation

What Could Go Wrong?

Chapter Implications for Three Audiences

2. Human Judgment: Needed or Not?
Human Judgment's Role

Evaluation Basics

What about the Evaluation of Teachers?

Judgment-Requisite Choices

Chapter Implications for Three Audiences

3. Defensible Teacher Evaluation
The Wonders of Whereas

Why Use a Weighted-Evidence Judgmental Approach to Teacher Evaluation?

A Weighted-Evidence Judgment Evaluative Survey

Who Are the Judges?

Chapter Implications for Three Audiences

4. Evidence from Standardized Tests
Key Testing Tenets

Why We Test

A Psychometric Blessed Trinity

Standardized Test- Two Tribes, Two Tasks

Traditional Test-Building and Its Off-Task Allure

The Origins of Traditional Educational Testing

Dealing with Effective Instruction

Ensuring Score-Spread from the Get-Go

Instructional Sensitivity as a Requisite

Returning to Validity

Evidential-Weight Guidelines

Chapter Implications for Three Audiences

5. Evidence from Classroom Assessments
Staking Out the Nature of "Classroom Assessment"

A Quest for Evidence of Student Growth

Formative and Summative Applications

Enhancing the Quality of Classroom-Assessment Evidence

Evidence of a Teacher's Instructional Ability

What's Assessed

The Traditional Psychometric Triplets

Following Test Development, Improvement, and Scoring Rules

Have Teachers Played it Straight?

Evidential-Weight Guidelines

Chapter Implications for Three Audiences

6. Evidence from Classroom Observations
What's Distinctive about Classroom Observations?

Observations Versus Ratings

Playing the Odds: Observation of Instructional Means

An Observational Reality: The Mysterious Middle Group

Getting the Most Evaluative Mileage Out of Classroom Observation Evidence

Two Widely-Used Observation Procedures

Danielson's Framework for Teaching

The Marzano Model

Evidential-Weight Guidelines

Chapter Implications for Three Audiences

7. Evidence from Ratings
Rooting Around with Ratings

Lurking Comparisons

Amalgam Judgments

Three Flavors of Bias

Administrators' Ratings

Students' Ratings

Making Ratings Righteous

The Rating Form

Rater Preparation

The Old and the New

Evidential-Weight Guidelines

Chapter Implications for Three Audiences

8. Evidence from Sundry Sources
Alternative Sources of Evidence for Evaluating Teachers

Academic Achievements

Changes in Students' Affect

Lesson Plans

Opportunity-to-Learn Student Surveys

Parental Engagement

Parent Ratings

Professional Development

Ratings by Colleagues

Student Interviews

Teacher-Made Tests

Teachers' Self-Ratings

Augmentation or Obfuscation?

Evidential-Weight Guidelines

Chapter Implications for Three Audiences

9. Mission Possible?
Weighted-Evidence Judgment of Teachers: A Reprise

What To Do- And How?

Chapter Imlpications for Three Audiences

Responding to a Subtitle


"Jim Popham provides a step-by-step analysis of the do's and don't's regarding evaluation, and leaves the reader with hope that, done properly, teacher evaluation can lead to better instruction. Evaluating America's Teachers is a must read for policy makers, district and school administrators, and classroom teachers grappling with reviewing and improving teacher evaluation."

Alan Burke, Deputy Superintendent, K-12 Education
Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Olympia, WA

"Dr. Popham makes many true and important points in this book. Particularly noteworthy is his point that tests are not validated, inferences are. A measure that may well allow valid inferences about what a student knows may not necessarily be valid in making an inference about teacher effectiveness. I believe that many of those wishing to evaluate teacher effectiveness miss this important point."

William A. Mehrens, Professor Emeritus
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

"Through his delightful wit and insightful use of vocabulary, Jim Popham has crafted a must read book for education policy makers, school administrators, and teachers. Throughout the book there are many "pearls of wisdom" that help steer the teacher evaluation discussion in states and local school districts. As a chief state school officer who is currently working on implementing a statewide teacher evaluation system that is required to meet the Race to the Top and ESEA waiver requirements, this book provided me with the right questions to ask prior to completion of our work. I believe this book will enable readers to turn the subtitle—Mission Possible?—from a question into a reality."

Terry Holliday, Commissioner of Education
Department of Education, Frankfort, KY

"In the contentious environment where there are so many competing models for evaluating teacher quality (many of which are seriously flawed), it is refreshing (and essential) that strategies are considered that examine the full range of teacher quality (not just test scores on just reading an mathematics) to achieve a fair, valid, and comprehensive look at the quality of teachers. This book does just that and should be a "must read" for policymakers, administrators, and teachers."

Barbara Plake, Professor Emeritus
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

"Popham's gift of writing and his wealth of knowledge and experience pour out of every page in this book. It recognises the inevitable—we will evaluate teachers—and shows how it can be done properly provided we remember that it is humans weighing the various sources of evidence that make judgements and not isolated instruments (observations, tests, ratings) that make these decisions. Hence, multiple methods, growth models, a clarity between formative and summative interpretations, and an emphasis on ensuring that the methods have instructional validity. The book glistens with goodness, it is sobering but optimistic, and it is fun to read."

John Hattie, Director, Melbourne Education Research Institute
Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria, Australia

"Teachers, administrators, and policy makers rejoice! Here is a single book, from a nationally recognized scholar, that makes sense of the issues involved with the evaluation of teachers."

David C. Berliner, Regents’ Professor Emeritus
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

"In an effective and diplomatic manner, Popham suggests concrete ways that policy makers, along with local school leaders and teachers, can make sure our students are protected from summative teacher evaluation systems that do more harm than good. No one should make policy at any level or strive to build a defensible teacher evaluation system without studying this book."

Rick Stiggins, Retired Executive Director
Assessment Trainer Institute

"Jim Popham has taken on one of the most contentious issues in American education today, and he presents an objective, fact-based approach to creating new systems to evaluate teacher effectiveness that are both fair to teachers and helpful in improving instruction."

Jack Jennings, Founder and President
Center on Education Policy

"Popham is softly critical of ineffective practice and common misperceptions but strongly proactive in his belief that this can be done—we can create teacher evaluation systems that are fair and have a positive impact on student learning. I truly feel after reading Evaluating America's Teachers: Mission Possible that this task is not only, in Popham's words a "mission possible," but it is a mission critical for America's schools."

Tom Foster, Director of Research and Evaluation
Kansas Dept. of Education, Topeka, KS

"As America's educational policymakers wrestle with revamping teacher evaluation systems, decisions are likely to be made that will have real and significant consequences in classrooms—the stakes are high. Every school board member in the country needs a solidly-researched, clearly articulated guide to understanding what works and what could go wrong. Dr. Popham's Evaluating America's Teachers is that guide."

Nancy J. Budd, Esq.
Hawai`i State Board of Education (SEA and LEA)

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ISBN: 9781452260853