Dean suggests new teaching assessment model

Education Dean Robert Pianta recommends observation, peer review, coaching instead of current methods for evaluating teachers


A study conducted by Education Dean Robert Pianta released Tuesday recommends the use of a new model, called MyTeachingPartner, to assess K-12 teachers' classroom skills.

Pianta said the majority of professional development programs currently being used are one-time only workshops which lack practical application in the classroom.

The new model is based on a system of classroom observations called CLASS, Pianta said. Teachers are rated on a 1 to 7 scale based on the emotional support they give their students, the quality of their methods of instruction and the organization of their teaching. Using these observations, researchers are able to identify and encourage the in-class practices and methods of the most effective teachers.

The study shows that the teaching standards encouraged by the new model have had a definitive impact on student behavior in the classroom.

"[We] applied this same coaching model in Virginia high schools and we saw that kids were more interested in the classroom," Pianta said, adding that students' scores on the Virginia Standards of Learning tests increased by 10 percent when the coaching model was used.

Pianta aims to use this model to improve instructors' teaching methods and interactions with students.

The report, released by the Center for American Progress, highlights the failures of current teaching assessment models.

"Despite major investments in professional development from federal, state and local sources, research proves that most professional development in current use is ineffective," said Cynthia Brown, the center's vice president for education policy. "Developing new, evidence-based teacher-performance systems, such as the one highlighted in this report, is a critical factor in helping our students achieve academic success."

MyTeachingPartner also provides personal coaching for teachers, who are provided with a flip camera to record lessons, Pianta said. These video files are then uploaded to the Internet for a second party to analyze and provide constructive criticism.

"What we've done with MyTeachingPartner is make video clips of teachers ... in the classroom," Pianta said. "We [then] compile a library of these good practices for other teachers to view and learn from."

Pianta hopes his work will have a direct impact on University students. "Some of these ideas are part of our preparation of teachers here at the Curry School," Pianta said. "We're also thinking of ways in which these ideas may translate to other ways of teaching and learning at the University [and] thinking of how we can help our instructors do a better job"

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