Understanding Teaching Quality

Trends in U.S. educational policy drive a need to answer fundamental questions about effective classroom instruction, such as:

  • How can we define quality in teaching and how can we measure it appropriately?
  • How can teachers develop effective practices and how well do they apply these practices in the classroom?

ETS's research on teaching quality aims to:

  • improve the conceptual frameworks and proficiency models that undergird assessments of teaching
  • design, develop and study assessments of teaching quality
  • advance scientific knowledge about the nature of teaching quality and how to measure it, concentrating on questions of validity and reliability
  • better understand the measurement models behind assessments of teaching quality

Featured Publications

These are some recent or significant publications on the subject of understanding teaching quality:

  • Correcting for Test Score Measurement Error in ANCOVA Models for Estimating Treatment Effects
    J. R. Lockwood & D. McCaffrey
    Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 22–52

    In this article, the authors discuss methods for estimating and correcting for measurement errors for treatment effects in observational studies. The authors describe extensions they developed for several methods of correcting for measurement error. View citation record >

  • The Instructional Challenge in Improving Teaching Quality: Lessons From a Classroom Observation Protocol
    D. Gitomer, C. Bell, Y. Qi, D. McCaffrey, B. Hamre, & R. Pianta
    Teachers College Record, Vol. 116, No. 6, pp. 22–52

    This article describes a study of 82 middle and high school Algebra I teachers. The study evaluates evidence of various aspects of instructional practice, score variations, the ability of observers to judge instructional practice, as well as teachers’ ability to self-evaluate. The authors discuss a major challenge to using teacher evaluation as a method of improving teaching and learning. View citation record >

  • Designing Teacher Evaluation Systems: New Guidance from the Measures of Effective Teaching Project
    T. Kane, K. Kerr, & R. Pianta (Eds.)
    Publisher: Wiley

    This book describes research from the Measures of Effective Teaching project, to which ETS was a major contributor. ETS staff members authored or co-authored the following chapters in this edited volume

    • Grade-Level Variation in Observational Measures of Teacher Effectiveness (pp. 9–49)
      K. Mihaly & D. McCaffrey
    • Improving Observational Score Quality: Challenges in Observer Thinking (pp. 50–97)
      C. Bell, Y. Qi, A. Croft, D. Leusner, D. McCaffrey, D. Gitomer, & R. Pianta
    • Evaluating Efforts to Minimize Rater Bias in Scoring Classroom Observations
      (pp. 383–414)
      Y. S. Park, J. Chen, & S. Holtzman
    • Scoring Design Decisions: Reliability and the Length and Focus of Classroom Observations
      (pp. 415–443)
      J. Joe, C. McClellan, & S. Holtzman
    • Evidence on the Validity of Content Knowledge for Teaching Assessments
      (pp. 493–529)
      D. Gitomer, G. Phelps, B. Weren, H. Howell, & A. Croft
    • Optimizing Resources to Maximize Student Gains
      (pp. 529–582)
      C. McClellan, J. Donoghue, & R. Pianta
  • Building Trust in Observations: A Blueprint for Improving Systems to Support Great Teaching
    J. Wood, J. Joe, S. Cantrell, C. Tocci, S. Holtzman, & J. Archer
    MET Project Policy and Practice Brief

    This document, created as part of the Measures of Effective Teaching project, is designed to help states and districts to create plans for continual improvement of an observation system. It recommends action steps to improve observation rubrics, observer training, observer assessment and monitoring. View document.


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