Kimberly O'Malley, Senior Vice President, Pearson's Research & Innovation Network
I spoke with a brilliant colleague about this question, Dr. Katherine McKnight, Principal Director of Research of the Center for Educator Learning & Effectiveness at Pearson, and she had the following thoughts:
I think there are two questions there: (1) is how to effectively assess teachers; and (2) is how to ensure accountability.
(1), as Wiliam (2007) as well as other researchers have noted, the ability to consistently assess student learning progress and adjust instruction accordingly is the single most important aspect of teaching practice to enhance student learning. Therefore, working with teachers to ensure that they understand how to use a wide variety of methods for monitoring student learning and progress is key. These can include observing students working together; verbal or written questions about content they are learning and need to master; performance on learning tasks (in-class or as homework), including smaller or larger projects; end of lesson unit quizzes; etc.
(2) RE: accountability, policy-makers and states are moving away from the use of student test scores on cumulative, annual achievement tests for a variety of well-documented reasons (for example, see the American Statistical Association's and the American Education Research Association's statements about the problematic use of value-added measures and student growth models as valid measures of teacher effectiveness). In fact, focusing on teacher evaluations to improve practice (i.e. for educative purposes) is gaining strength in policy circles. A number of studies in the psychology field about performance evaluations and their link to worker's intrinsic motivation, many of which are discussed in Daniel Pink's popular book "Drive," suggest that the current approach of teacher evaluations for accountability purposes is not effective for improving practice, which ostensibly was the purpose.