Teacher Effectiveness

What is teacher effectiveness? 

There are a number of definitions for teacher effectiveness. In the narrowest of terms, teacher effectiveness can be described as a teacher’s ability to improve student learning which is evaluated by their test results. This definition has been under a lot of criticism because teachers are not solely responsible for student learning and academic achievements don’t reflect how much a student has learnt. It is merely a measure of how much they could write on the test.

A more comprehensive definition of teacher effectiveness was developed by Goe, Bell and Little in 2008. They believe that effective teachers demonstrate the following: 

1. High expectations for all students that helps students learn
2. Support for positive student outcomes in academic, attitudinal, and social areas
3. Engaging learning opportunities and the ability to adapt instruction, formative monitoring of student progress, and student evaluation strategies that include multiple measures
4. The value of civic-mindedness and diversity
5. Collaboration with other teachers, administrators, parents, and other education professionals to ensure student success

(Approaches to Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness: A Research Synthesis By Geo, Bell and Little, 2008)

What makes a teacher effective?

Effective teachers have a lasting effect by enriching their students’ lives. They also have the ability to influence student learning. They help students experience the joy of learning which is reflected in their test scores and academic achievements. Effective teachers possess certain qualities that make them effective. Some of them are listed here:

1. They have formal teacher preparation training.
2. They are certified within their fields.
3. They are caring, fair, and respectful.
4. They hold high expectations for their students.
5. They dedicate a lot of time and effort to planning their lessons 
6. They are excellent communicators. They don’t have a problem articulating their thoughts and putting their point across. 
7. They try to enhance learning by using technology to make the lessons more enjoyable for the students.
8. They provide valuable feedback on improvement techniques after evaluating students’ test scores. They try to find ways to help students who did poorly. 

Some common mistakes that less effective teachers make: 

1. Disrespect students: the one thing children loathe is getting disrespected in front of their peers. If they feel that their teacher does not respect them, they will not do it either. 

2. Not planning lessons: it is important that a teacher has clear goals in mind while teaching a lesson. What does s/he expect the students to learn from a particular lesson and how s/he is going to make it possible for them to learn those things?

3. Ask a question and immediately call volunteers to answer it: most students try to avoid making eye contact when the teacher asks for volunteers to come and solve the problem. There will always be 3-4 kids in class who will be eager to answer.  If you frequently do this, students will pay little attention to your lecture, they will simply start praying that you don’t ask them to volunteer. 

4. Frequently asking students to work in groups: students enjoy working with friends but constantly doing so is not very appealing. There will be no individual accountability and the child who does maximum amount of work might get frustrated with this technique. 

5. Not communicating effectively: a number of children complain about teachers who know their subject well but are never able to explain it coherently to them. Making sure you connect what you are saying and explaining its relevance to the topic is an effective way to overcome this problem.

Measuring Teacher Effectiveness - Some ways to measure teacher effectiveness:

1. Student Ratings:
Student feedback is an important method for evaluating teacher effectiveness. They are direct consumers of teachers’ services. This can be done in the form of questionnaires which ask students to rate a number of things like teaching style, course content, behaviors, etc. on a scale of 0-5. This method is not considered reliable because students are susceptible to biases and don’t possess enough knowledge to assess course content and teaching techniques. 

To make sure that these problems do not crop up during teacher evaluation, it is advisable to gather data from more than one source including other teachers. Another measure that can be taken to make sure such an exercise is successful is to make sure the questions on the questionnaire clearly state what they are asking. There should be no ambiguity.

2. Classroom Observation:
Classroom observation is usually undertaken by a school administrator or an outside evaluator. They can measure specific teaching practices or general methods. These visits by evaluators can be formally scheduled or unannounced. These visits can be undertaken more than once a year. 
Some things to keep in mind are to make sure the evaluator knows if there is any specific teaching practice you want should be evaluated. It is crucial that the evaluator is well-trained. 

3. Self-Evaluation:
Self-evaluation technique requires teachers to report on what they are doing in class. It may take the form of a survey, video or interview. Self-report measures focus on broad, far reaching aspects of teaching that are thought to be important in all contexts. They can contain straightforward checklists of easily observable behaviors and practices; they may contain rating scales that assess the extent to which certain practices are used. (A Practical Guide in Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness, 2009)

A new form of self-evaluation includes recording a video for the entire duration of a class. The teacher needs to be careful not to perform in front of the camera. This can later be assessed by the teacher or peer or both. 

Self-report data can assess a teacher’s thought process and intentions in a way in which any other form of evaluation can’t. Although, self-evaluation makes it possible for teachers to rate themselves exceedingly well. It is important that this technique is applied along with student evaluation or other forms of evaluation to produce expedient and comprehensive results. 

4. Classroom Artifact Evaluation:
This method includes collecting classroom artifacts like lesson plans, test results, teacher assignments, student work, and other artifacts which will ascertain the quality of instructions given in class. The idea is by analyzing artifacts, evaluators can understand how the teacher creates learning opportunities for the students. Artifacts can be judged on a wide variety of criteria including creativity, enthusiasm, alignment to standards, clarity, etc. (A Practical Guide in Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness, 2009)

This method is used because the artifacts have already been created by the teacher and it does not place any unnecessary burden on the teacher. 

Teacher Evaluation Systems in India:

In India, teachers continue to be evaluated on the basis of student test results. A teacher who manages to get his/her students to score well is relatively more competent than ones who fail to do so. Another marker to assess teacher effectiveness is experience. A senior teacher is expected to have more experience in handling situations with students and has more knowledge when it comes to the subject he/she is teaching. On the other hand, younger teachers normally have more enthusiasm and energy, they are easier to talk to and are often more flexible in their approach to the issues that they observe. 

A standard criterion in teacher evaluation is also how much they know – so a teacher with a PhD in their core area of specialization is rated higher than another who may have a mere graduate degree in the subject, regardless of how well they teach. This is based on the assumption that a person who has spent more time and effort on the subject knows more and can therefore teach better. 

Evaluating the evaluator is not an easy task but Indian schools need to come up with comprehensive techniques to evaluate their teachers. Parents and students blindly put their faith in the teachers. They have a huge role to play in the future of our country and unfortunately; many of them resort to less than effective techniques in the classroom.  

Article written by: Mrinalini Mathur


1. A Practical Guide To Evaluate Teacher Effectiveness by National Comprehensive Centre For Teacher Quality
2. How To Measure Your Effectiveness as a Teacher
3. Survey of 12 Strategies to Measure Teaching Effectiveness by Roland A. Berk
4. Defining Teaching Effectiveness
5. Approaches to Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness: A Research Synthesis By Geo, Bell and Little
6. Qualities of an Effective Teacher
7. The Power of an Effective Teacher and Why We Should Assess It 
8. Characteristics of Effective Teachers
9. Evaluating Teachers