Evaluation of teachers is nearing the time of closing the loop on assessment. Many states are developing systems that combine student performance data with state and national teaching standards. The assessment data are used as the content of collegial coaching and collaborative teaming efforts. These efforts guide the professional development of teachers, helping them better understand how to help their students learn. In short, closing the loop means that the results of teacher evaluation are linked to improved student learning.
The implementation of No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was a catalyst in moving student achievement from its position as the outcome of great teaching to a quantifiable measure that is now a component of comprehensive teacher assessment and evaluation systems. How student achievement scores are precisely linked to effective teaching is an ongoing debate, but both state and district officials acknowledge that student achievement is an essential ingredient to judging teaching performance.
Teachers in districts and schools that use comprehensive assessment systems will likely fair better and improve their teaching over time, especially when the results are coupled with sound professional development in key areas. Identifying these key areas then, becomes the central requirement to a successful professional development program. It is vital for educators and administratorsto incorporate the latest tools and techniques to assure getting the best information back into the teachers’ hands.