Teacher Observation Less Reliable than Test Scores

Friday, January 11, 2013

A few years ago, Bill Gates decided to learn more about whether a teacher's effect on student learning could be measured. Three years, 3,000 teachers and about $50 million later, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation thinks it has the answers.

On Tuesday afternoon in Phoenix, the Gates Foundation released the third and final component of the Measuring Effective Teachers project, a gargantuan effort spearheaded by Harvard economist Thomas Kane.

"Effective teaching can be measured," the authors wrote in the latest installment. They're sure of it because they used a randomized experiment to figure it out. Reliable teacher evaluations, the paper claims, include "balanced" proportions of teacher observation, students' standardized test scores and student surveys.

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