Appraising the work of an educator is a highly nuanced process.
Cory Koedel, professor of economics and public policy at Mizzou, is working to improve the overall fairness of teaching evaluations.
Cory Koedel is an associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Missouri–Columbia. His research is in the areas of teacher quality and compensation, curriculum evaluation, and the efficacy of higher education institutions. Dr. Koedel is an associate editor for the Economics of Education Review and serves on the editorial board for Education Finance and Policy and the board of directors for the Association for Education Finance and Policy. He has also served on technical advisory panels related to school and teacher evaluations for school districts, state education agencies and non-profit organizations. He was awarded the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Educational Research Association (Division L) in 2008, and in 2012 he received the Junior Scholar Award from the same group. He received his PhD in economics from the University of California, San Diego in 2007.
Improving Teaching Evaluations
Evaluating schools and teachers based on their performance is a topic addressed regularly by voters and policymakers around the country. One of the biggest criticisms of proposed evaluations is that schools and teachers in less wealthy areas with fewer resources will be unfairly evaluated in comparison to those with access to more resources. By leveling the playing field among schools and teachers in different circumstances, we can mitigate this concern.
We have identified a plan to evaluate schools and teachers conditional on the contexts in which they work using “proportional” evaluations. Standard statistical tools can be used to construct proportional evaluations along any measured dimension of student disadvantage. For example, we can use commonly available data on students’ poverty status across teachers in such a way that teachers in high-poverty and low-poverty schools are no more or less likely to be identified as effective. The benefits of proportional evaluations lie in their ability to produce “equally-circumstanced” comparisons across schools and teachers.
Our research examines three broad types of evaluation plans that are being considered in states and school districts across the country and concludes that a “proportional” plan will be the most effective and equitable. Proportional evaluations best satisfy three critical policy objectives that we identify as being associated with the use of school and teacher evaluations. First is to provide performance signals that are useful for improving instruction and can promote efficient educator-to-educator learning. Second is to elicit optimal effort from teachers and other personnel. Third is to avoid exacerbating the well-documented inequities between high-poverty and low-poverty schools in terms of their ability to recruit teachers. Proportional evaluations satisfy this latter objective by ensuring that teachers who work in less favorable schooling environments will not receive systematically lower ratings.
Evaluating teachers is a tricky process, but hopefully our research will lead to a more fair & accurate appraisal.