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This event, hosted by REL West at the request of the California Department of Education, provided an opportunity for about 35 members of California's Race to the Top working group, key legislative staff, and representatives of key state organizations to explore the research behind various methods of evaluating teacher effectiveness. 

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Melissa Eiler White


Measuring Teacher Effectiveness: Implications for California's Race to the Top

October 06, 2009

Sterling Hotel
1300 H Street
Sacramento, California

Goals of the Event

  • Provide an overview of research on approaches to measuring teacher effectiveness.
  • Provide opportunities to learn from districts with innovative teacher evaluation systems.
  • Engage in discussion about how both the research and the practical models could apply to California's planning for Race to the Top.

The overall objective of the event was to inform the work of key stakeholders involved in designing a teacher evaluation system for California, resolving issues related to linking teacher and student achievement data, and planning for California's participation in Race to the Top. While teacher effectiveness is often most associated with the ability of teachers to produce student test score gains, there are other ways to conceptualize and measure it. Speakers discussed several of these different methods, including ones that rely on student achievement data, such as value-added models, and ones that draw on other data, such as classroom observation protocols. The event was designed to foster dialogue and discussion about these important issues.

Remarks by Glen Thomas, California Secretary of Education, provided context and a framework for the presentations and discussions throughout the day.


Three presentations by prominent researchers in the field of teacher effectiveness provided a foundation for discussions about issues of measuring teacher effectiveness in California.

Laura Goe, Research Scientist, Educational Testing Service, provided the keynote address, focusing her remarks on A Practical Guide to Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness, published by the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality in April 2009, which is based on Approaches to Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness: A Research Synthesis (Goe, Bell, & Little, 2008). 

Douglas Harris, Associate Professor of Education Policy Studies, University of Wisconsin at Madison, discussed value-added models as tools to evaluate teacher effectiveness, including the advantages and disadvantages of using such methods.

Bridget Hamre, Associate Director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, discussed the importance of including classroom observations as a useful measure of teacher effectiveness. She reviewed factors to consider when thinking about adoption of an observational tool, such as scope and alignment, standardization, training, reliability, and validity as well as feasibility, sensitivity to change, supplemental materials available, and links to improvement.  

A panel of practitioners representing school districts that are engaged in measurement of teacher effectiveness that goes beyond traditional teacher evaluation shared their experiences and perspectives. Facilitated by Melissa White, Senior Policy Associate at REL West, panelists and the districts they represented were:

  • Tom Alves, Executive Director, San Juan Unified School District Teachers Association
  • Bill Chiment, Assistant Superintendent, Poway Unified School District
  • Julia Koppich, Koppich & Associates, Montgomery County, MD

Rick Miller, Deputy Superintendent, California Department of Education, provided closing remarks and reflections.


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