Evaluation of Teachers of Mathematics
A Position of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
What factors should be considered in evaluating the effectiveness of teachers of mathematics?
Accountability requirements in education have led to an increase in the number of school districts that are experimenting with including data on the improvement of students’ test scores over time, or what are called value-added measures, as a significant component of teacher-evaluation
systems. Research on such evaluation systems is only now emerging, and findings on their effectiveness raise concerns about their reliability, validity, and stability (Sass, 2008). These findings indicate that many assessments of student learning are not appropriately vertically aligned (Corcoran, 2010).
Other analyses indicate that measures of teacher effectiveness can vary significantly, depending on the statistical method used (Newton et al., 2010). There is also concern that some current accountability tests measure low-level skills rather than critical mathematical processes, conceptual understanding and
reasoning, and problem solving, as called for in new standards and recommendations (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010; NCTM, 2009). Value-added models are generally based on standardized test scores and do not directly measure
potential teacher contributions to other student outcomes (ASA, 2014). Many variables affect testing results, and many test results may not be an accurate reflection of teacher effectiveness.
Evaluations are most effective when they provide teachers with guidance on how to improve their performance (Little, 2009). It is essential that teachers are provided with the support, professional development, and resources to perform their jobs. Incorporating the effective
teaching practices from Principles to
Actions (NCTM, 2014) as domains of the evaluation process can create a more complete picture of a teacher’s effectiveness. Observations, artifacts, and a teacher’s self-analysis are other aspects that should have a role in the process. The use of a variety of tools, and ensuring that the evaluators of teachers are
properly trained in their use, can generate a more accurate representation of effectiveness than a focus that is primarily on test scores and value-added measures.
A narrow use of student test scores to evaluate teachers’ effectiveness may obscure or overlook the fact that teaching is a complex endeavor. Teaching consists of multiple domains of professional practice, and student learning is a product not only of what happens within the classroom but
also of what happens outside the classroom. Additionally, teachers do not all teach under the same working conditions but deal with differing assignments, student characteristics, and resources. Although evidence of student learning can and should be considered in the evaluation of teachers, it should be only
one factor among many and should not be used for high-stakes decisions about individual teachers or schools (McCaffrey et al., 2005). Including the effective teaching practices (NCTM, 2014) as domains of the evaluation process, and ensuring that evaluators of teachers are properly trained in their use, can
create a more complete picture of a teacher’s effectiveness than a primary focus on test scores and value-added measures.