Archived Articles

Building a Better Teacher

Districts consider paying teachers based on evaluations

By Erin Richards and Tom Tolan

... In Milwaukee Public Schools, meanwhile, five low-performing schools received federal grants for turnaround efforts that required new evaluation systems for staff. But rather than limit the system to those schools, the Milwaukee teachers union worked with the administration to develop an evaluation tool that's poised to be rolled out for all teachers and principals next year ...

The pilot teacher evaluation tool being implemented in nine schools this year relies on 50% "teacher practice," as defined by a well-known framework for teaching devised by Charlotte Danielson, a New Jersey-based educational consultant, and 50% on "student growth and achievements."

"This is a huge change for teachers and principals," said Bob Peterson, president of the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association. He added that the results of the evaluation should be used to help support teachers with more professional development, or usher them into a program of intense coaching and a way to exit the profession, if their reviews are consistently low ...


Grading the Teachers

Schools have a lot to learn from business about how to improve performance, say Bill and Melinda Gates

By Bill and Melinda Gates

... It may surprise you—it was certainly surprising to us—but the field of education doesn't know very much at all about effective teaching. We have all known terrific teachers. You watch them at work for 10 minutes and you can tell how thoroughly they've mastered the craft. But nobody has been able to identify what, precisely, makes them so outstanding.

This ignorance has serious ramifications. We can't give teachers the right kind of support because there's no way to distinguish the right kind from the wrong kind. We can't evaluate teaching because we are not consistent in what we're looking for. We can't spread best practices because we can't capture them in the first place.

For the last several years, our foundation has been working with more than 3,000 teachers on a large research project called Measures of Effective Teaching, or MET. These teachers volunteered to have their classes videotaped and their lessons scored by experts, to have their students evaluate their teaching, to fill out surveys about the support they receive and to be assessed on their content knowledge ...


A Framework for Good Teaching: a Conversation with Charlotte Danielson

EdWeek interviews Charlotte Danielson

By Peter DeWitt

October 8, 2011: What makes good teaching? Critics and reformers believe it is something that can be quantified, replicated and packaged. They also believe that given the right textbooks or high stakes exam, educators can be made to teach in the same way which will bring equality to the classroom, and therefore all students will succeed. After all, can't we use the same formula and get the same results?

The reality is that teaching is both a science and an art, and it is difficult. It is difficult to teach because students enter our classrooms from diverse backgrounds, where they have had diverse experiences, and not every parent cares about their child in the same way, which means that some of our children enter our schools with a great deal of emotional baggage.

Charlotte Danielson understands our student populations, and even more so, she understands good teaching. She has taught every level from kindergarten through college, has been an administrator and a consultant, and she believes good teaching comes from using reflective practice in four main areas. Those four areas are; planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibilities.

Given the recent changes in teacher and administrator evaluation, I wanted to get Charlotte's perspective on how her effective and thought-provoking tool is being implemented in states across the country.


Crafting an Accurate System for Evaluating Teachers

Guru of teacher evaluation talks about the pros and cons of judging educators

By John Mooney

September 26, 2011: Charlotte Danielson may not be a recognizable name to the general public, but the Princeton-based consultant is the architect of a framework for observing and evaluating teachers that has been the gold standard in schools across the country.

By one count, a third of New Jersey school districts use the Danielson method in their own evaluation systems, focusing on its criteria for effective teaching. Danielson divides those criteria into 22 components across four domains: preparation, classroom environment, instruction, and professional responsibility.

As the Christie administration now moves to create a statewide teacher evaluation system, the Danielson framework is one of the programs being offered to 10 pilot districts. Of course, Gov. Chris Christie is also putting a heavy emphasis on student achievement measures such as state test scores for the rest of the rating, a component not in Danielson's system.

Last week, Danielson spoke with NJ Spotlight about the latest push for better evaluation nationwide -- both strengths and pitfalls, including some worries about how New Jersey is pursuing its reforms.


New York State Education Department Approves Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching

The New York State Department of Education (NYSED) has listed Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Teaching as an approved teacher practice rubric with ASCD Teacher Effectiveness Suite.


August 1, 2011: Across the country and internationally, thousands of schools have implemented Danielson’s Framework for Teaching as a tool for teacher evaluation. The Framework divides the complex activity of teaching into 22 components across four domains. The Danielson Group will be supporting New York districts as they begin the process of redeveloping teacher evaluation systems this summer and over the course of the school year.


Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness

Can classroom observations identify practices that raise achievement?

By Thomas J. Kane, Eric S. Taylor, John H. Tyler and Amy L. Wooten

Summer 2011: Jointly developed by the local teachers union and district more than a decade ago, the Cincinnati Public Schools’ Teacher Evaluation System (TES) is often cited as a rare example of a high-quality evaluation program based on classroom observations. At a minimum, it is a system to which the district has devoted considerable resources. During the yearlong TES process, teachers are typically observed and scored four times: three times by a peer evaluator external to the school and once by a local school administrator. The peer evaluators are experienced classroom teachers chosen partly based on their own TES performance. They serve as full-time evaluators for three years before they return to the classroom. Both peer evaluators and administrators must complete an intensive training course and accurately score videotaped teaching examples.

The system requires that all new teachers participate in TES during their first year in the district, again to receive tenure (usually in their fourth year), and every fifth year thereafter. Teachers tenured before 2000–01 were gradually phased into the five-year rotation. Additionally, teachers may volunteer to be evaluated; most volunteers do so to post the high scores necessary to apply for selective positions in the district (for example, lead teacher or TES evaluator).

The TES scoring rubric used by the evaluators, which is based on the work of educator Charlotte Danielson, describes the practices, skills, and characteristics that effective teachers should possess and employ. We focus our analysis on the two (out of four total) domains of TES evaluations that directly address classroom practices: “Creating an Environment for Student Learning” and “Teaching for Student Learning.” (The other two TES domains assess teachers’ planning and professional contributions outside of the classroom; scores in these areas are based on lesson plans and other documents included in a portfolio reviewed by evaluators.) These two domains, with scores based on classroom observations, contain more than two dozen specific elements of practice that are grouped into eight “standards” of teaching.

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"Danielson’s Framework for Teaching has been a revelation to me; the best analogy I can offer is that the Framework is like having voice-guided GPS to direct you to a destination, when before you might have only had a destination name and an outdated road map."

Pre-Service Teacher, May 2016

“[The consultant] gave the best PD I have seen in 15 years of teaching, and was the first to explain [the] Danielson [Framework] in a human way. Bravo.”

A teacher, June 2015

“I am so impressed with the Danielson Group consultants. They are all so real. Your trainers helped make [proficient] teaching stronger and steered [basic teaching] toward increasing effectiveness.” 

A principal, June 2015

"Due to your consultant's seamless and meaningful transitions, knowledge of content, and rapport with the audience, the room was alive with energy and it made us all feel ready to begin the year off with success."

"Never before have I seen a group of seasoned educators like your consultants master the art of communicating with an audience with varied levels of expertise and interests. The two days that I spent with your team, I walked away with a desire to use the rubric to truly enhance my own practice."

"I left with a renewed look at the rubric, thinking that the rubric is the Great Equalizer! We can ALL enhance our practice by using it as a tool and a roadmap to produce students who think and are ready for college and careers. THANK YOU!"

"Your consultants' presence and organization of the day will not only impact the new teachers that attended, but will make the year alive for a vast number of students this year."

"Our workshop focused on calibration and inter-rater agreement training, so it was directly aligned to our individual and collective work with teacher performance evaluation.  With new administrators on the team, this type of training is critical."

"We were highly impressed with our Danielson Group consultant and the workshop. We have nothing but positive things to share. Staff have been emailing us, thanking us. This is the most worthwhile presentation we've been to in a while."

"The workshop you provided was hands-on, interesting, practical, and respectful of time limits. I heard more positive feedback about this workshop from staff than I have about any other."

"We wanted to let you know how much we appreciated the flexibility and professionalism that your consultant provided in our unique context. It helped us to keep on track with our schedule at a critical time. For that we are truly grateful."

"Your consultant presented a perfectly differentiated learning experience for all our principals. They were highly engaged, as demonstrated by on-topic conversations using academic language, completion of tasks requiring evidence identification, and note taking and 'grading' during classroom videos of teaching."

"Our school principals said the Framework observation training was the best training they had ever had, including the training provided when earning their Master’s degrees."

"I have a principal who was so excited about the breakthrough work with her staff in special education. I am already getting my money back!"

"My concern about the extra time it would take to implement the Framework successfully was not accurate. It took about the same amount of time as our prior evaluation system, and the benefits in professional growth and increased student achievement were more than worth it."

"I want to truly thank you for the brilliant job that you did with our training. I got such positive feedback from the team. They feel re-energized and like they have a direction and new tools to do the job."