One Piece of the Whole: Teacher Evaluation as Part of a Comprehensive System for Teaching and Learning

In this American Educator magazine article, Stanford Researcher Linda Darling Hammond argues that the United States needs a conception of teacher evaluation as part of a teaching and learning system that supports continuous improvement. She says that initiatives to develop teaching quality must consider not only how to identify, reward, and use teachers’ skills and abilities, but also how to develop contexts that enable good practice. “Support for teacher learning and evaluation needs to be part of an integrated whole that promotes effectiveness during every stage of a teacher’s career,” says Darling-Hammond. She adds that teacher evaluations “relying on a single test-based metric sitting in isolation alongside a rating based on classroom observations are not particularly helpful in either understanding or improving the quality of teaching, and may be harmful.” She says that “multiple measures of learning combined with evidence of practice paint a meaningful picture of how teaching influences student progress.” Darling-Hammond lists and describes seven criteria for an effective teacher evaluation system.

Content Comments 

This article by Darling-Hammond provides a short summary of the state of current teacher evaluation programs and argues for a comprehensive teaching and learning system that supports teachers from the time they are hired and throughout their tenure in the classroom. One important message from the article is that a comprehensive teacher evaluation system evaluates both teacher and teaching quality. The article presents 7 elements for an effective, comprehensive, and cohesive teacher evaluation system that schools and districts can utilize. It also includes a couple of sidebar descriptions that illustrate how the system elements that Darling-Hammond proposes can work together.