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Are Student Scores the Only Way to Measure Teacher Effectiveness?


The Center for Teacher Effectiveness says, “Good teaching is critical for preparing our students to succeed in post-secondary education and careers. The challenge is to help teachers become more effective.”

The Colorado Department of Education states, “Classroom teaching and school leadership are the strongest school-based factors impacting student achievement.”

Both of these thoughts are important. They are talking about student outcomes. I get that, but what really makes a teacher effective?

Do you remember the great teachers you had when you were in school? As I look back at my school days, I recall many teachers who were really good at teaching. They taught their subject matter well, created an atmosphere for learning, and could pique my interest to learn more. To me, that is teacher effectiveness. But is that the end game?

As I have pondered about this topic, not only did many of my teachers give me a hunger to learn, some teachers took it to another level and really made an impact. The teachers who really made an impact on my life were passionate about what they taught. I think those are the teachers we remember for the rest of our lives.

It seems the trend is to measure teacher effectiveness by student outcomes. If the students test well, we must assume the teachers have effectively taught their students. It seems logical to try to quantify teacher effectiveness. But if one of the most significant impacts on student learning is the passion in which that teacher taught the topic, how do you measure the effects of a passionate teacher?

As we look at how to measure progress to increase teacher effectiveness, and give you the tools to do so for classroom observations, I wonder what questions can be asked to show the teacher has passion. Yes, the logistical things need to be in place, and yes, teachers must have good classroom management skills, and yes they need to teach their subject well. But what about measuring passion?

As Michael A. Quinn said in his article, “let’s focus on PASSIONATE pedagogy. . . after all, it’s all that our students will probably remember.”

Please share your thoughts and ideas about how we can discern this important part of the teaching experience.

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