Over the last decade, nearly every state in the U.S. implemented major reforms to its teacher evaluation systems. These reforms sought to use evaluation for two purposes: 1) to inform personnel decisions, such as rewarding highly effective teachers and removing ineffective ones, and 2) to provide feedback to teachers to help them improve their practice. The idea was appealing—two birds, one stone.
But new evidence undermines that idea. A recent study by Alvin Christian and me suggests that new evaluation systems have not been able to produce high-quality evaluation feedback at scale. Providing feedback to teachers is a worthy investment, but we suspect it would be more effective to focus the evaluation system on career decisions and provide the most formative feedback outside of the evaluation process.