themselves too high, it can provide a
resolve any uncertainties in teacher
useful reference point. In fact, in two of scores. For example, if a teacher’s
A Useful Tool
Teacher observation is a useful and valid
three possible outcomes, teacher self-
evaluations help decrease the error in
the observer’s rating.
For example, if the teacher’s self-
self-rating is higher than an observer’s
rating, ratings from walk-throughs
might reconcile the differences.
part of teacher evaluation. By incorpo-
rating some of the strategies I suggest,
schools can reduce sampling error
without requiring a great deal of addi-
rating is the same as the observer’s, that’s Record Teachers’ Classes on Video
tional resources. ;L
a good indication that the observer
Random recordings of teachers’ classes
rating is accurate. If the teacher’s self-
are both easy and inexpensive to do
rating is lower than the observer’s, it’s
using modern digital video cameras.
possible that the teacher has underrated Raters can score the recordings inde-his or her skill level, but it’s more likely pendently or in teams, and teachers
that the observer’s rating is inflated;
1I derived this probability by computing
the probability of each possible way that
five observations would include at least
one instance of each lesson type using the
multinomial distribution and then summing
can be included in scoring their own
teachers will likely be more aware of
their tendencies over the years than
will observers. Finally, if the teacher’s
Let Teachers Challenge Scores
self-rating is higher than the observer’s,
Teachers should be allowed to challenge
the teacher may have an inflated view
their final summative scores on specific
of his or her pedagogical skills, or the
elements by providing evidence—such
observer’s score may be low as a result
as classroom videos, student artifacts,
of sampling error or measurement error. or student responses to survey ques-
In this case, the remaining strategies can tions—that shows they have effectively
provide additional information.
used those elements in the classroom.
This gives teachers a say in the scores
Use Announced Observations
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (2011).
Learning about teaching: Initial findings
from the Measures of Effective Teaching
project. Bellevue, WA: Author. Retrieved
Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of
teaching: A comprehensive framework for
effective instruction. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Marzano, R. J. (2012). Evaluations that help
teachers improve. Educational Leadership,
70( 3), 14–19.
for Different Lesson Types
It’s wise to schedule three announced
observations during which the observed
teacher demonstrates one of the three
types of lessons. This procedure ensures
that observers will see examples of
instructional strategies specific to the
different lesson types.
Of course, this might introduce
another type of error—the teacher
attempting to impress the observer
by using strategies during announced
observations that he or she typically
doesn’t use. If the rating scale describes
specific levels of development for each
instructional strategy (Marzano, 2012),
the teacher will probably score low in
terms of his or her skill in these rarely
used strategies, thus defeating his or her
purpose of using those strategies.
Green Your School
— and save money! Students lead the way as they investigate their school site, energy use, water, waste and recycling practices, and implement action projects. Project Learning Tree:
Use Brief Walk-Throughs
as Unannounced Observations
Many schools routinely use brief,
unannounced walk-throughs during
which observers observe in teachers’
classrooms for 3 to 5 minutes.
Observers can collect information to