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:

2015
2014
  • Trends in Classroom Observation Scores
    J. Casabianca, J. R. Lockwood, & D. F. McCaffrey
    Educational and Psychological Measurement, Online First Version

    The authors discuss trends in teacher observations and scoring. Both the quality of the teaching and of the raters tend to shift, which can have implications for the ability to draw valid inferences about teaching and for the design of such observations. The authors observed 458 middle school teachers over a two-year period using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System–Secondary (CLASS-S) protocol. 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 >

  • 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 >

  • Cognitive Frameworks for Assessment, Teaching, and Learning: A Validity Perspective
    M. T. Kane, & I. I. Bejar
    Psicología Educativa, Vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 117-123

    The authors provide an introduction to an issue of Psicología Educativa, which addresses questions about how it is possible to add value to educational assessments. They write that while grounding assessment design in cognitive theories and model-based methodologies is highly desirable, rigorous evaluation of the resulting scores is still necessary. 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
  • Uncovering Multivariate Structure in Classroom Observations in the Presence of Rater Errors
    D. F. McCaffrey, K. Yuan, T. D. Savitsky, J. R. Lockwood, & M. O. Edelen
    Educational Measurement; Issues and Practice, 2014, Online first.

    The authors examine the factor structure of scores from the CLASS-S protocol, as used in observations of middle school classroom teaching. Their results have implications not only for future studies to develop validity evidence and test theories of teaching, but also for practitioners who rely on the results of such studies to support their use and interpretation of observation scores. View citation record >

  • Developing Content Knowledge for Teaching Assessments for the Measures of Effective Teaching Study
    G. Phelps, B. Weren, A. Croft, & D. Gitomer
    ETS Research Report No. RR-14-33

    This paper documents the development of assessments of content knowledge for teaching (CKT) as part of a study funded by the Gates Foundation under the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project. The goal was to find a set of measures that could measure teaching effectiveness. View citation record >

  • Teaching Content to English Learners in the Era of the Common Core Standards
    S. Turkan, & M. Schramm-Possinger
    R&D Connections, No. 23

    The authors discuss teaching of content to English language learners in relation to the Common Core State Standards. They argue that teachers must facilitate ELLs' understanding and use of oral and written discourse for each discipline, which they refer to as "Disciplinary linguistic knowledge." View citation record >

  • Proposing a Knowledge Base for Teaching Academic Content to English Language Learners: Disciplinary Linguistic Knowledge
    S. Turkan, L. C. De Oliveira, O. Lee, & G. Phelps
    Teachers College Record, Vol. 116 No. 3

    The authors discuss the need for better knowledge about how teachers can address the linguistic and culture needs of a U.S. student population that is growing increasingly diverse. View citation record >

  • 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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