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 Pub Number  Title  Date
NCEE 20174001 Race to the Top: Implementation and Relationship to Student Outcomes
Race to the Top (RTT), one of the Obama administration's signature programs and one of the largest federal government investments in an education grant program, received $4.35 billion in funding as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Through three rounds of competition in 2010 and 2011, RTT awarded grants to states that agreed to implement a range of education policies and practices designed to improve student outcomes. Using 2013 interview data from all states, this report documents whether states that received an RTT grant used the policies and practices promoted by RTT and how that compares to non-grantee states. The report also examines whether receipt of an RTT grant was related to improvements in student outcomes. Findings show that 2010 RTT grantees reported using more policies and practices than non-grantees in four areas (standards and assessments, teachers and leaders, school turnaround, charter schools), and 2011 RTT grantees reported using more in one area (teachers and leaders). However, the relationship between RTT and student outcomes was not clear, as trends in test scores could be plausibly interpreted as providing evidence of either a positive, negative, or null effect for RTT.
10/26/2016
REL 2016102 A Descriptive Study of the Pilot Implementation of Student Learning Objectives in Arizona and Utah
Approximately 30 states are now adopting teacher evaluation policies that include student learning objectives (SLOs), which are classroom-specific student test growth targets set by teachers and approved (and scored) by principals. Today state and district leaders are trying to determine the appropriate level of guidance and oversight to provide in support of this work. This study describes results of the pilot implementation of SLOs in two states—Arizona (with 363 teachers) and Utah (with 82 teachers)—that were implementing SLOs with the same aims: to positively affect student achievement and to fulfill the state's required student-accountability component for teacher evaluations. Findings indicated that, in their SLOs, Arizona teachers tended to target student proficiency growth on vendor-developed tests, without including any specifics about instructional strategies, while Utah's pilot teachers (over half of them special education teachers) tended to define their own SLO-focused instructional strategies and/or use their own classroom-level tests or rubrics, with goals geared toward students demonstrating knowledge (through project completion) or a physical skill. Arizona teachers' end-of-year SLO scores from their principals varied, distinguishing high- and low-performing teachers, and teachers with higher SLO scores were also rated higher on classroom observations and student surveys. Conversely, SLO scores varied little in Utah's pilot, with 89 percent of teachers meeting expectations." (Utah's pilot teachers were not rated on other measures.) On end-of-year surveys, Utah pilot teachers generally perceived the SLO process as worthwhile and beneficial to their students and to their own professional growth; however, they did not perceive the SLO pilot as positively affecting their instruction or their knowledge of effective ways to assess students. (A low response rate precluded parallel survey analysis in Arizona.)
11/24/2015
REL 2015093 Alternative Student Growth Measures for Teacher Evaluation: Implementation Experiences of Early-Adopting Districts
State requirements to include student achievement growth in teacher evaluations are prompting the development of alternative ways to measure growth in grades and subjects not covered by state assessments. These alternative growth measures use two primary approaches: (1) value-added models (VAMs) applied to end-of-course and commercial assessments; and (2) student learning objectives (SLOs) selected by teachers with the approval of their principals. Information is limited, however, on how these alternative growth measures can be used to evaluate teachers and on their costs and benefits. REL Mid-Atlantic sought to develop new information by conducting case studies to examine the implementation experiences of eight districts that were early adopters of alternative measures of student growth. District administrators, principals, teachers, and teachers' union representatives were interviewed for the study.

The study found that alternative growth measures have been used for many purposes other than teacher evaluation, but SLOs are unique in their use to adapt and improve instruction. Although the alternative measures show a wider range of teacher performance relative to previous evaluation systems without measures of student growth, evidence on the reliability and validity of alternative measures--especially SLOs--is limited. Districts implementing SLOs most often reported increased collaboration as a benefit, while alternative assessment-based VAMs were perceived as fairer than SLOs for making comparisons among teachers. Both types of alternative growth measures come with costs and implementation challenges. SLOs are substantially more labor-intensive relative to alternative-assessment based VAMs. More research is needed on the statistical properties of the alternative measures, the approaches districts are taking to offset implementation costs, and innovative solutions to overcome implementation challenges.
7/21/2015
REL 2015047 The Utility of Teacher and Student Surveys in Principal Evaluations: An Empirical Investigation
This study examined whether adding student and teacher survey measures to existing principal evaluation measures increases the overall power of the principal evaluation model to explain variation in student achievement across schools. The study was conducted using data from 2011-12 on 39 elementary and secondary schools within a midsize urban school district in the Midwest. The research team used the results of the district’s Tripod student and teacher surveys to construct six school-level measures of school conditions that prior research has shown to associate with effective school leadership. The study finds that adding the full set of six survey measures as a group results in statistically significant increases in variance explained in mathematics and composite value-added outcomes, but not in reading. A stepwise regression procedure identified two measures – instructional leadership and classroom instructional environment – as an optimal subset of the six measures. This evidence indicates that student and teacher survey measures can have utility for principal performance evaluation.
11/12/2014
REL 2014013 How States Use Student Learning Objectives in Teacher Evaluation Systems: A Review of State Websites
This report provides an overview of how states define and apply student learning objectives (SLOs) in evaluation systems. The research team conducted a systematic scan of state policies by searching state education agency websites of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. to identify tools, guidance, policies, regulations, and other documents related to the use of SLOs in teacher evaluation systems. The researchers reviewed each relevant document to code the requirements, components, and uses of SLOs, which are summarized in a brief report and a series of searchable tables. The report and tables were produced in response to research questions posed by the Northeast Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance (NEERA), one of eight research alliances working with REL Northeast & Islands.
3/6/2014
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