Teachers are optimistic that new evaluation tools are improving teaching and learning

A new report from Teach Plus reveals Memphis teachers’ views on the impact of evaluation reform and suggests positive trend to come



Washington, DC – A report released today by Teach Plus examines Memphis teachers’ opinions on the early years of evaluation reform, and finds overwhelming evidence that teachers believe Memphis’ new evaluation system is improving teaching and learning in their classrooms.

The report, Lessons from the Leading Edge: Teachers’ Views on the Impact of Evaluation Reform, suggests that positive outcomes of teacher evaluation on teaching and learning may be just around the corner in other districts and states.

Tennessee was one of the first two Race to the Top grant recipients. Memphis has consistently led the nation in the development and implementation of a rigorous, multiple-measure evaluation tool, called the Teacher Effectiveness Measure (TEM). The evidence that Memphis teachers see positive outcomes from the TEM a few years into its roll-out may be indicative of a growing positive trend as evaluation implementation plays out in later Race to the Top and Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver states.

“Teachers in Memphis have been living and working with this new evaluation tool for longer than teachers anywhere else in the country,” said Teach Plus Founder and CEO Celine Coggins. “They’re telling us that with time, patience and the right supports for teachers and administrators, a multiple-measure evaluation system that includes achievement data can have a positive impact on their teaching practice, and they also point us to modifications that can improve the process in other districts. With the reauthorization of ESEA on the table, policy makers in Congress would be wise to listen to these teachers’ perspectives.”

Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow Casie Jones, a teacher at MLK Transition Academy in Memphis City Schools, said that the TEM roll-out has been “a rewarding learning process,” even though it has been challenging at times. “The feedback I received from my observations, from student assessment and student survey scores, and the professional growth plan has given me valuable information about how to improve in my instruction so that my students can learn even more,” said Jones.

Teach Plus Memphis Executive Director Lisa Watts, who co-authored the report with Memphis teacher and Teaching Policy Fellow Joy Singleton-Stevens and Mark Teoh, Teach Plus Director of Research and Knowledge, spoke of the importance of teacher voice in developing an evaluation system that works for teachers. “In Memphis, we’ve seen the incredible impact of teacher voice through our work with Memphis City Schools on the development of the Teacher Effectiveness Measure,” said Watts. “Through focus groups and teacher surveys, Memphis teachers gave constructive feedback on the TEM throughout its development, and today our evaluation tool is a model for other districts nationwide.”

Lessons from the Leading Edge was released today at an event hosted by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) in Washington, DC. The event addressed the importance of engaging teachers in the development of evaluation systems, and celebrated the publication of a new book by AIR and Public Agenda. The book, Everyone at the Table: Engaging Teachers in Evaluation Reform (Jossey-Bass, June 2013), features Teach Plus as a leader in bringing teachers’ voices to education policy.

Download the report.