Relationships between Observations of Elementary Mathematics Instruction and Student Achievement: Exploring Variability across Districts


Much debate surrounding teacher quality has focused on students’ standardized test scores, but recent federal and state initiatives have emphasized the use of multiple measures to evaluate teacher quality, including classroom observations. In this study, we explore differences across school districts in the relationship between student achievement outcomes and the observed quality of teachers’ instruction. Using data from 298 elementary mathematics teachers in five urban US districts, we examine relationships between teachers’ performance on the Mathematical Quality of Instruction observation instrument and their students’ scores on both state standardized and researcher-developed tests. We find that these relationships differ across school districts. We explore the extent to which differences in skills and expectations for students across tests may explain this variability. An improved understanding of the relationship between classroom observations and student tests may help districts to better support teachers in developing their instructional effectiveness.