Professor Matthew Ronfeldt and former postdoc Shanyce Campbell awarded for outstanding article on flaws in teacher observation ratings

March 31, 2019

Professor Matthew Ronfeldt and former SOE postdoctoral fellow Shanyce L. Campbell (Assistant Professor, University of California, Irvine) received the 2019 Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award for their article “Observational Evaluation of Teachers: Measuring More Than We Bargained for?” published in the American Educational Research Journal, Volume 55, Issue 6, December 2018.

The award is given for an outstanding article appearing in an AERA-sponsored publication and recognizes the lifelong achievement of Palmer O. Johnson as a dedicated educator and for his pioneering work in educational research and methodology. AERA will honor award recipients for their outstanding scholarship and service at the Awards Ceremony and Celebration, April 7, at the AERA Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada.

The article abstract describes the scope of the work:

Our secondary analysis of Measures of Effective Teaching data contributes to growing evidence that observation ratings, used as part of comprehensive teacher evaluation systems across the nation, may measure factors outside of a teacher’s performance or control. Specifically, men and teachers in classrooms with high concentrations of Black, Hispanic, male, and low-performing students receive significantly lower observation ratings. By using various methodological approaches and a subsample of teachers randomly assigned to classrooms, we demonstrate that these differences are unlikely due to actual differences in teacher quality. These results suggest that policymakers consider the unintended consequences of using observational ratings to evaluate teachers and consider ways to adjust ratings to ensure they are fair.

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