We find that evaluations based on well-executed classroom observations do identify effective teachers and teaching practices. Teachers’ scores on the classroom observation components of Cincinnati’s evaluation system reliably predict the achievement gains made by their students in both math and reading. These findings support the idea that teacher evaluation systems need not be based on test scores alone in order to provide useful information about which teachers are most effective in raising student achievement.
Classroom observations and observer ratings were collected in both Tools and Comparison classrooms. Classrooms were observed three times during the fall and spring semesters of school years 2010-11 (cohort 1) and 2011-12 (cohort 2), with one observation in the fall and two in the spring semester. Two observers visited the classroom to record all classroom activities during the day. One observer completed the Narrative Record and Tools of the Mind fidelity measure (see )Â as well as an environmental scan of the classroom materials. The second observer completed the Teacher Observation in Preschools (TOP) and the Child Observation in Preschool (COP). At the conclusion of the observation, each observer collaborated to complete the Post Observation Rating Scale (PRS). The classroom observation measures are described below.
In this article, we report a few results from an ongoing study of teacher classroom observation in the Cincinnati Public Schools. The motivating research question was whether classroom observations—when performed by trained professionals external to the school, using an extensive set of standards—could identify teaching practices likely to raise achievement.
Informal observations of teaching can be extremely effective in helping to enhance teaching performance. UNC Charlotte’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) offers the opportunity for faculty to be observed by members who have been publicly recognized for excellence in teaching. Trained faculty will observe classes at the request of the person wishing to be observed, and the observation’s purpose will be to provide feedback on teaching practices and to suggest ways to improve those practices, if appropriate. Any information gathered through the classroom observation process is confidential and will not be used for any purpose other than enhancement of teaching: all information stays between the observer and the teacher being observed.