Policy Implications of High-Stakes Teacher Evaluation


Tom Good and Alyson Lavigne have recently done considerable writing on high-stakes testing and especially the use of classroom observation. They have examined the literature base on teacher effectiveness and have reported that current observational systems use historically generated knowledge poorly. Relatedly, they have written on modern citation practices and the theme that much of modern research is ahistorical. In addition to writing in scholarly outlets on these topics, they have also coordinated (with Ron Marx) professional conferences bringing practitioners and scholars together to discuss high-stakes teacher evaluation. These works have been expressed in different outlets.

Lavigne, A. L., & Good, T. L. (2015). Improving teaching through observation and feedback: Going beyond state and federal mandates. New York: Routledge.

Lavigne, A. L., & Good, T. L. (2014).  Teacher and student evaluation: Moving beyond the failure of school reform.  New York: Routledge.

Lavigne, A. L., & Good, T. L. (under contract, in preparation). Building useful programs of teacher development and evaluation: Assessing the evidence from education reform and research.  New York: Routledge.

These books collectively have presented a history of teacher evaluation, principals’ preparation for observing teachers, weaknesses of common observation systems, and suggestions for improving teacher evaluation. Also, these books explore what we know about teaching and discuss why we do not have more knowledge about effective teaching. 

Good, T. L., & Lavigne, A. L(2015).  Rating teachers cheaper, faster, and better: No so fast [Peer commentary on the paper, “Can we identify a successful teacher better, faster, and cheaper? Evidence of innovating teacher observation systems” by J. Gargani & M. Strong]. Journal of Teacher Education66(3), 288­–293.

Good, T. L., & Lavigne, A. L. (2015).  Issues of teacher performance stability are not new: Limitations and possibilities [Peer commentary on the paper, “The stability of teacher performance and effectiveness: Implications of policies concerning teacher evaluation” by G. B. Morgan, K. J. Hodge, T. M. Trepinksi, & L. W. Anderson]. Education Policy Analysis Archives23(2).

These articles have noted the ahistorical nature of research on teaching and in particular the use of value-added techniques in high-stakes teacher evaluation. The articles note that important historical data and findings have not been integrated into current teacher effectiveness research.

Lavigne, Good, and Marx organized two conferences on the topic of using observational systems in high-stake environments. These conferences included several national experts who work in this area, as well as practitioners in Arizona, allowing for a collaborative environment for sharing of information and expertise.  

Lavigne, A. L., Good, T. L., & Marx, R. W. (Eds). (2014). Introduction to high-stakes teacher evaluation: High cost—big losses [Special issue].  Teachers College Record, 116(1). 

Good, T. L. (2014). What do we know about how teachers influence student performance on standardized tests: And why do we know so little about other student outcomes? Teachers College Record, 116(1). 

Lavigne, A. L. (2014). Exploring the intended and unintended consequences of high-stakes teacher evaluation on schools, teachers, and students. Teachers College Record, 116(1).

Marx, R. W. (2014). Reforming again: Now teachers. Teachers College Record, 116(1).

All presentations at the second conference (hosted by the College of Education and the Department of Educational Psychology) were published by Teachers College Record. Lavigne, Good, and Marx served as editors of the special issue as well as contributed individual papers.  

About the Researchers

Tom Good is a professor emeritus in the Educational Psychology Department at the University of Arizona.  Alyson Lavigne is an associate professor of Curriculum Studies at Roosevelt University.