New Report Offers Critical Insights into the Practical Implications of the Gates Foundation MET Project

Mar 14, 2012, 10:24 ET from Teachscape

Leading teacher evaluation experts provide perspectives on teacher evaluator training and certification

SAN FRANCISCO, March 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Key participants in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) Project, Dr. Catherine McClellan, Charlotte Danielson, and Mark Atkinson, have released the inaugural Practitioner Series for Teacher Evaluation report titled, Teacher Evaluator Training and Certification: Lessons Learned from the Measures of Effective Teaching Project. The report, based on the experts' collaborative work on video-taping and scoring over 23,000 lessons across 3,000 classrooms for the MET project, is designed to offer state and district leaders with practical insights. In particular, the report highlights best practices of evaluator training, an often overlooked component of cutting-edge teacher effectiveness systems. The full report is available here.

"As a result of state and federal policy initiatives that emphasize performance-based teacher evaluation systems, observers who serve as evaluators are central to the entire process," said Dr. Catherine McClellan, lead author of the report. "If principals are not trained to accurately and assess teachers, they cannot provide useful feedback and succeed in their primary job of instructional management. Without proper evaluator training, teacher effectiveness programs cannot work. This report addresses this central issue head-on."

Dr. Terry Holliday, the Kentucky Commissioner of Education, who wrote the forward to the report, agreed with Dr. McClellan. "A clearly-defined 'effectiveness rubric' is an excellent first step, but it is only a beginning. The 'effectiveness rubric' will be no better than the principals who use it to provide feedback, coaching, and support to classroom teachers."

The report makes a series of recommendations for evaluator training, including:

  • The best training for evaluators is authentic scoring practice. Principals and other evaluators need the opportunity to score real lessons, in real time, and get immediate feedback;
  • Any training program must include exemplar videos of classroom sessions that have been pre-scored by instruction experts;
  • Evaluator training must focus on both accuracy and consistency. Accuracy and consistency are not synonymous – multiple observers can agree on a teacher's performance, yet they can all be wrong;
  • Training for observers must prepare them to understand the difference between bias, interpretation, and evidence; and
  • Principals must be trained on both high-end and low-end teacher performance.

Contributing author Charlotte Danielson developed the Framework for Teaching, which is currently being used by over 16 states, including Pennsylvania, New York, and Wisconsin.  "Dr. McClellan – and her partners at Teachscape and Educational Testing Service – worked through the MET project to develop key insights and a scoring system that can maximize observer training," said Danielson. "Now we can leverage those findings to train principals and other evaluators to provide constructive, credible feedback to teachers and improve student achievement."

"New classroom technologies enable us to measure the efficacy of classroom teachers with an degree of precision," said contributing author Mark Atkinson, the founder of Teachscape, which video-taped and scored the lessons collected through the MET Project.  "Next generation software tools not only make improved teacher evaluation manageable; they also make the process transparent, fair, and much more conducive to timely feedback to teachers." 

As part of the MET project, Teachscape video-taped and scored 23,000 lessons across more than 3,000 classrooms. Teachscape, along with their partners ETS, Dr. McClellan, and Charlotte Danielson, then developed a rigorous set of systems, tools, and scoring methodology for the lessons. Following the adoption of a scoring methodology, the team trained evaluators and then recorded the training that best allowed evaluators to make fair and accurate evaluations.

The authors of the study are available for interviews. To arrange an interview, please contact Brian Fawkes at  or 415-369-3131.

About Dr. Terry Holliday
Dr. Terry Holliday is the Kentucky Commissioner of Education. Previously, Holliday served as superintendent of the more than 20,000-student Iredell-Statesville school district in North Carolina from 2002 until 2009. Under his leadership, Iredell-Statesville received the 2008 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, which was created by an act of Congress in 1987 to recognize companies, organizations, businesses and other entities that have shown long-term improvement in quality and productivity.

Holliday's previous experience includes serving as superintendent, associate superintendent, director of accountability, principal, assistant principal, director of instrumental music and band director in North Carolina and South Carolina. In December 2010, Holliday was named to the board of directors for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) for 2010-11.  CCSSO is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions.

In September 2011, Holliday was appointed to serve a four-year term on the National Assessment Governing Board. The board sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the Nation's Report Card.

Holliday is the co-author of Running All the Red Lights: A Journey of System-Wide Educational Reform.

About Dr. Catherine McClellan
Dr. Catherine McClellan is a principal scientist at Clowder Consulting, LLC. Prior to forming Clowder Consulting in September 2011, Catherine spent 13 years at Educational Testing Service, where she was most recently the director of human constructed-response scoring.

While at ETS, Dr. McClellan served as the R&D project director for the Video Plus Scoring project, part of the Measures of Effective Teaching study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. McClellan's team took instruments designed for the observation of classroom sessions by experts and modified the scoring design so that they provided data for a statistical model, along with other components to inform inferences on teaching quality and value-added models. Dr. McClellan had responsibility for the design and execution of all preliminary studies, the design of the operational scoring, and the statistical monitoring of the live scoring.

Earlier in her tenure at ETS, Dr. McClellan served as the director of psychometrics and worked on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a federal survey assessment of education in the United States, also known as "The Nation's Report Card."

Dr. McClellan is affiliated with the Psychometric Society, the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME), and the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Division D. She received her Ph.D. in research and evaluation methodology, her M.Ed. in secondary mathematics education, and her B.Sc. in pure mathematics from the University of Florida.

About Charlotte Danielson
Charlotte Danielson is an internationally-recognized expert in the area of teacher effectiveness, specializing in the design of teacher evaluation systems that, while ensuring teacher quality, also promote professional learning. She advises state education departments and national ministries, both in the United States and overseas. She is in demand as a keynote speaker at national and international conferences, and as a policy consultant to legislatures and administrative bodies.

Ms. Danielson's many publications range from defining good teaching (Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching, 2007) to organizing schools for student success (Enhancing Student Achievement: A Framework for School Improvement, 2002) to teacher leadership (Teacher Leadership That Strengthens Professional Practice, 2006) to professional conversations (Talk About Teaching! Leading Professional Conversations, 2009) to numerous practical instruments and training programs (both onsite and online) to assist practitioners in implementing her ideas.

About Mark Atkinson
Mark Atkinson is the founder of Teachscape, Inc. For 11 years, following Teachscape's inception in 1999, Mr. Atkinson served as the company's chief executive officer. He has raised more than $50 million in venture and philanthropic funding for Teachscape and secured groundbreaking partnerships with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Stanford University, SRI International, the New Schools Venture Fund, Intel, McGraw-Hill, and the American Federation of Teachers. Mr. Atkinson has also served as an advisor to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Measures of Effective Teaching project.

He currently steers Teachscape's long-range corporate strategy with a specific focus on innovative partnerships to expand Teachscape's role in the preparation, licensing, assessment, and development of K–12 teachers. Mr. Atkinson also advises federal, state, and local policymakers on new approaches to teacher evaluation and licensure. He is a frequent speaker at education conferences across the United States.

Mr. Atkinson has served on the boards of trustees of the Oracle Education Foundation and the Breakthrough Collaborative, and is a current director of PresenceLearning, Inc., the country's leading provider of online speech therapy services.

Prior to founding Teachscape, Mr. Atkinson was the senior producer and manager of new markets for CBS News Productions in New York City, and before that he served as a producer for Peter Jennings Reporting at ABC News, where he produced a series of Emmy award-winning network specials on U.S. foreign policy in Bosnia, Haiti, and Iraq. He is a recipient of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Gold Baton, considered the industry's most prestigious honor, for his work in Bosnia. Mr. Atkinson is a graduate of Yale University.

SOURCE Teachscape