George Lucas Educational Foundation

Middle School Teacher Evaluations

Middle School Teacher Evaluations

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The current system of teacher evaluations is faulty at best. It's been on my mind a lot lately, especially as I read through the report put out by the National Board Resource Center at Stanford University on "A Quality Teacher in Every Classroom" and study up for my upcoming call with Arne Duncan (see my latest Edutopia blog post.) But I really started thinking too about abilities in teaching that are specific to certain grade levels. I mean, since we aren't all interchangeable, should the assessments of our own profession be so generic as they are now? Perhaps if we were to make our evaluations more specific to our grade level it might begin the process of targeting what makes teaching certain age groups so unique. Maybe too it might guide us in our professional development or reflection in order to better our own craft. But I'm getting ahead of myself into dreamy-land. I would love your opinions on some of these thoughts. So, here is what I'm curious about: 1. How can our teacher evaluations be more specific to our talents as effective middle school teachers? 2. How can making our evaluations more specific to age groups help in our own growth as professionals? Or doesn't it? Agree, disagree, add your own thoughts, whatever you want. But let me know what you think about my current musings. Take care, fellow middle school Edutopians, and I look forward to hearing your input. -Heather Wolpert-Gawron

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Roxie Bratton's picture

Is your evaluation process or system a top down model or is it comprised of diverse stakeholders that understand the various aspects of what it means to teach your (MS) students in accordance to your school's mission? What does your school value in its teachers? What are your responsibilities and expectations? Your evaluation should identify some of these guidelines. Have you all identified what is good practice and have someone (admin. and peer) give you feedback? Is there a goal setting component?

JB's picture

Good morning everyone!

I'm looking for a teacher I could speak with about their concerns with teacher evaluations. Ideally, I would like to find a teacher who had a really good, or really bad, experience with teacher evaluation. I am pushing for a story that will give me some background for an article I'm writing on this topic.

If you are a teacher, have any feedback on your personal experience with teacher evaluation, and are willing to share it, I'd be super grateful if you could get back to me :) I can be reached at

Thanks a lot,


Shawn Blankenship's picture

As a middle school principal, I believe teacher evaluations are one of my most important duties and spend a great deal of time providing valuable feedback. A great evaluation should ensure quality teaching and promote professional learning. Last summer I was selected to attend the Harvard Leadership Institute and was asked this simple question, "Have you made the time to discuss with your faculty exactly what great teaching looks like?" I couldn't believe I had overlooked such an important task. Our district's generic evaluation instrument is far from describing what this might look like. As a result, I decided to use Charlotte Danielson's, "Framework for Teaching" rubric as a guide. According to Danielson, the system developed for teacher evaluation must have certain characteristics: it must be rigorous, valid, reliable, and defensible, and must be grounded in a research-based and accepted definition of good teaching. This rubric has 4 domains and I believe it does a terrific job describing the characteristics of an unsatisfactory, basic, proficient, and distinguished teacher regardless of the subject matter.

As for making our evaluations more specific to age groups is a terrific idea. My teachers know that I believe all middle school teachers should know as much about adolescents (traits, characteristics) as they do the subject matter in which they teach. Our evaluation instruments should reflect engaging lessons since we understand adolescents prefer active over passive learning. For instance: The instrument should require quantitative data such as teacher talk versus student talk. We already have an app on smart phones that can easily determine this percentage. We know that students should own the learning and a 70% to 30% ratio works well during most lessons. These percentages are different in elementary or high school. This just popped into my head and I could think of hundreds more. This is a great idea and this type of feedback would be much more meaningful and beneficial to a middle level teacher!!!

By the way, I look forward to reading your new book, Tween Crayons and Curfews.

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