Revisiting the Widget Effect: Teacher Evaluation Reforms and the Distribution of Teacher Effectiveness

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Abstract:

In 2009, TNTP’s The Widget Effect documented the failure to recognize and act on differences in teacher effectiveness. We revisit these findings by compiling teacher performance ratings across 24 states that adopted major reforms to their teacher evaluation systems. In the vast majority of these states, the percentage of teachers rated Unsatisfactory remains less than 1%. However, the full distributions of ratings vary widely across states with 0.7% to 26% rated below Proficient and 3% to 62% rated above Proficient. We present original survey data from an urban district illustrating that evaluators perceive more than three times as many teachers in their schools as below Proficient than they rate as such. Interviews with principals reveal several potential explanations for these patterns.

Last updated on 07/29/2016