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Society for Music Teacher Education

reports, research, and papers that opine about the best possible approaches for hold- ing teachers accountable for student learn- ing and growth. This article offers a brief look at some of the recent themes related to teacher evaluation and considers a number of practical applications of those ideas for the evaluation of music educators. In recent months, the following catego- ries of music teacher evaluation seem to be surfacing and are worthy of further study and consideration. Teachers and administra- tors alike, with limited time and resources, are threading a complex maze of regulations that vary from state to state. It is likely that your state and school is considering the use of one or a combination of these approaches in the development of the process that will be used to evaluate your work. Those cat- egories include: • Teacher evaluations tools that are linked to the assessment of student outcomes;


• Teacher evaluation tools that are connected to teacher practices via observations;

• Teacher evaluations linked to practice through self-assessment/critical reflection/narrative; and

• Teacher evaluations that are multifaceted—that is, that involve some combination of the previous three.

Themes From Evaluation Of Student Outcomes

Effective teaching in a music class re-

quires different professional practice and outcome measures than effective teaching in algebra class, which means that the mea- sures of collecting evidence may vary based upon the subject area of the teacher.1


he dialogue about teacher eval- uation in the United States has reached a pinnacle with myriad

Recent Themes In Teacher Evaluation

by Doug Orzolek SMTE Chair

University of St. Thomas, Minnesota

Many organizations are recognizing that the evidence of student learning in some disciplines will look entirely different from that in other areas. This realization is important and vital to the development of music teacher evaluation tools. Statements like the quote above also remind us of con- cerns and questions that are raised when sta- tistical models [such as value-added models (VAMs) or evaluation tools derived from standardized tests] are used in the evalua- tion of teachers. The use of student learning outcomes (SLOs) also fits into this category, and, in general, this approach is considered flexible and most directly tied to teacher practice, since teachers establish the goals set for each student. The literature also re- minds us “the arts rely primarily on indi- vidual evaluation rather than standardized testing,”2

meaning that issues of time and numbers of students begin to play a factor in using student evidence in the evaluation of music educators. In summary, the following are

themes for us to address, monitor and con- sider:

• Music educators must develop clear, concise and assessable outcomes/ objectives for the learning occurring in our classrooms;

• Music educators must understand and articulate our stance on the use and implications of statistical models (like VAMs) in the evaluation of our work;

• Music educators need experiences with a wide variety of assessment tools and various means of collecting the evidence of student learning in our classrooms; and

• Music educators need to develop an efficient and clear means of reporting our findings with others.


Themes From Evaluation Through Observation

The various comments, opinions, and

conjectures about evaluation of educators through observation are equally taxing to absorb, but there are some apparent themes for our consideration. Most agree that ob- servers need to be carefully trained in order to provide fair and consistent feedback and, in general, the reliability of the observations increases when more than one observer is part of the process. In addition, the use of domain-based observation tools (e.g., the Danielson or Marzano models) with mul- tiple rating levels (at least four) seems to provide more substantive feedback that en- courages teacher growth and development. Some have shared their concerns about making these observation tools as music- education-friendly as possible. That might be accomplished by ensuring that the dis- positions exclusive to teaching music and all of the contextual pieces related to mu- sic classrooms are included and taken into consideration. There is some support for the use of student perception surveys in the ob- servation process as well. Overall, it’s impor- tant that music educators take an active role in the development and implementation of the observation process.

Themes From Evaluation Through Self- Reflection

Self-reflection is typically done through

a narrative or oral interview. Several authors suggest that this type of evaluation can be enhanced and be more effective when teach- ers focus their reflections on the processes of student learning rather than that of their own teaching. In addition, however, when teacher reflection is focused on the final products of student learning, the results of-

56 OCTOBER 2013

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