What do teachers think about their evaluations? A case study of teachers’ perceptions of the NEE evaluation system
Date Published: July 2019
White, D.K. (2019). Teacher Perceptions of Their Evaluations: Impact of the Network for Educator Effectiveness (NEE) Data Tool on Teacher Growth, Teacher Effectiveness, and Learning-Centered Culture in a Missouri Rural Public High School (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Missouri, Columbia, MO.
What do teachers think about their evaluations? That was the question Dr. Keith White, principal at Buffalo High School in Buffalo, Mo., sought to answer through his dissertation research, which he recently shared with the Network for Educator Effectiveness.
Dr. White’s findings are encouraging for NEE teacher evaluations and how they can be used to support teachers.
Purpose of the study
The purpose of the study was to obtain and analyze the impact of the NEE evaluation system from teachers’ perspectives through a case study of NEE evaluations related to promoting teacher growth, improving effectiveness, and promoting a learning-centered culture at Buffalo High School.
Background of the study
Dr. White has used the NEE system to evaluate teachers for seven years as a principal. The idea for his dissertation research came about as he noticed a lack of focus on teacher growth, teacher effectiveness, and learning-centered cultures that promote growth mindsets among everyone in the school – students, teachers, and administrators alike.
In recent years, teacher evaluations and professional development have become a key priority for many educational leaders as a measure of school improvement.
Dr. White recognized that teacher evaluations are a valuable tool that could improve the focus on growth but that teachers were rarely asked for their opinions on how to improve student achievement or their own growth. So he wanted to find out what teachers thought about whether evaluations actually improved teacher growth, teacher effectiveness, and the school’s learning-centered culture.
Dr. White sent a survey to the 35 teachers at Buffalo High School, and 28 teachers completed the survey (80% response rate).
In the survey, teachers were asked for their opinion on whether their NEE evaluations promoted teacher growth, improved teacher effectiveness, and promoted a learning-centered culture in relation to the four teaching indicators that are evaluated in BHS’s classroom observations. This format resulted in 12 quantitative questions in which teachers rated their responses on a six-point Likert scale. There also were four qualitative questions, providing an opportunity for teachers to provide open, in-depth feedback.
The findings of Dr. White’s research are encouraging. Most teachers provided positive feedback about their evaluations, showing that with strong implementation of NEE, teachers gain buy-in and experience benefits.
On the 12 quantitative questions, 85.5 percent of teachers who completed the survey agreed the NEE system promoted teacher growth, improved teacher effectiveness, and promoted a learning-centered culture at the school.
Below is the distribution of findings for each of the three areas of focus and the four indicators evaluated in classroom observations at Buffalo High School.
The qualitative findings also were supportive of the NEE system, with 83.9% of the 280 total qualitative responses coded as either strongly agreeing, agreeing, or somewhat agreeing.
The following themes surfaced from the qualitative data:
- Feedback helped promote teacher growth.
- Personal goal setting helped promote teacher growth.
- Teacher mindset helped promote teacher growth.
- High expectations improved teacher effectiveness.
- Focused direction improved teacher effectiveness.
- Principal feedback improved teacher effectiveness.
- Working together promoted a learning-centered culture.
- Student-focused promoted a learning-centered culture.
- Honest feedback promoted a learning-centered culture.
- Communicating honest feedback promoted a learning-centered culture.
The findings of Dr. White’s study indicate that NEE evaluations can be a powerful tool to promote teacher growth, teacher effectiveness, and learning-centered cultures.
The qualitative feedback, in particular, showcased the importance of feedback conversations and collaboration with administrators in the evaluation process. Teachers want and need to have input about effective teaching practices and the learning culture of the school. Growth occurs through conversations. That’s why NEE recommends administrators follow each classroom observation with a face-to-face conversation, and this summer we provided NEE administrators with our Guide to Effective Feedback Conversations.
Overall, we are encouraged by the findings of this case study. NEE is designed to be a growth model that supports teachers in their professional growth and positively impacts school culture.