The Best of Us S2/E5: Principals or Peers: Who Should Evaluate Teachers?, with Drs. Alyson Lavigne & Tim Ford

In this episode of The Best of Us,we sit down with Dr. Alyson Lavigne and Dr. Tim Ford to cover the wide world of teacher evaluation. These two instructional leadership researchers share a wealth of knowledge about evaluation’s past, present and future, from questions of teacher motivation to the impact of Race to the Top and beyond.

Research shows that much of the past decade’s carrot-and-stick evaluation reforms didn't actually have much of an impact on teaching and learning outcomes. School leaders spend more time documenting performance than actually providing feedback to improve instruction. At the same time, teachers question both the validity and utility of their results.

So where do we go from here? Tim and Alyson take us through what’s working across the world from Chile to Japan, findings from their research around teacher motivation, practical ways to move beyond the checkbox, and much more.

Listen now:


The purpose of teacher evaluation [00:03:12] Discussion on the original intent behind teacher evaluation and its main purposes: objective assessment and accountability, as well as supporting teacher development.

The tension between compliance and growth-oriented evaluations [00:06:10] Exploration of how teacher evaluation can often be compliance-oriented, but the importance of using it as a mode for giving teachers a growth pathway.

The impact of Race to the Top initiative on teacher evaluation frameworks [00:07:18] Explanation of the significance of the Race to the Top initiative in driving the adoption of more rigorous teacher evaluation systems, including increased observations and the inclusion of student achievement as a significant factor.

The purpose of teacher evaluation [00:10:46] Discussion on the original intent and components of teacher evaluation, including the emphasis on summative ratings and the lack of focus on growth and development.

Impact of Race to the Top initiative [00:11:57] Exploration of how the Race to the Top initiative influenced teacher evaluation frameworks, with a heavy emphasis on fine-tuning summative components and less attention to formative and growth-oriented aspects.

Problems with current teacher evaluation practices [00:14:52] Identification of limitations in current teacher evaluation policies and practices, including a mismatch between policy intent and implementation, questions about validity and utility of feedback, and challenges faced by principals as evaluators.

Teacher Evaluation Systems and School Leader Burden [00:19:02] Discussion on the evolution of teacher evaluation systems and the increased burden on school leaders.

Challenges in Providing Feedback and Adaptations [00:20:14] The difficulties school leaders face in providing feedback and making adaptations in teacher evaluation processes.

International Approaches to Teacher Evaluation [00:23:31] Comparison of teacher evaluation approaches in different countries, with a focus on Japan's lesson study model.

The importance of peer feedback [00:27:50] Discussion on the breakdown of feedback sources for teachers, with a focus on the percentage of feedback coming from peers in different countries.

Challenges of peer-led evaluation [00:28:48] Exploration of concerns and unintended consequences of implementing a peer-led evaluation process, including changes in relationships and the need for trust and collegiality.

Improving the formative process of teacher evaluation [00:32:21] Introduction of practical methods, such as the use of videos and online platforms, to enhance the formative feedback and growth-oriented aspects of teacher evaluation.

The power of utilizing video for growth and development [00:35:35] Using video as a tool for teachers to showcase their instructional excellence and receive feedback for growth.

Moving beyond compliance in teacher evaluation [00:38:21] Shifting the mindset from compliance-based evaluations to authentic engagement in professional learning.

Throwing out the word "evaluation" and focusing on improvement [00:42:44] De-emphasizing the word "evaluation" and shifting the focus towards continuous improvement and meaningful feedback.

The purpose of evaluation [00:44:51] Discussion on the purpose of teacher evaluation and the importance of improvement and growth.

Teacher wellness and stress [00:45:31] Exploration of the connection between teacher evaluation and teacher wellness and stress.

Moving evaluation from demand to resource [00:46:41] The importance of reframing evaluation as a resource to support teacher well-being and efficacy.

Let's get started

Schedule a demo with one of our friendly team members.

Schedule a Demo