Press Release

Statement by Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers,On Gates Foundation Report on Measuring Effective Teaching

For Release: 

Friday, January 6, 2012


Tom Lansworth

Gates report "in essence debunks the top-down, test-driven strategy that makes test scores the principal evaluation tool."


The Measures of Effective Teaching project, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, today released a report highlighting the value of multiple measures of teacher effectiveness.

WASHINGTON—The Gates Foundation's latest report on effective teaching provides fresh evidence that for teacher evaluation systems to be valid and reliable, they must incorporate many measures of instructional performance, not just student test scores. On the other hand, the report fails to address the most important issue—how to use the evaluation process to improve teacher practice. 

The report, "Gathering Feedback for Teaching," found that a combination of classroom observations, student feedback and student achievement gains, along with trained observers, were essential evaluation tools. In doing so, the report in essence debunks the top-down, test-driven strategy that makes test scores the principal evaluation tool for teachers. 

It is disappointing that after all of the Gates Foundation's research, the focus is still on measuring performance, not about improving performance. As the top-performing countries have demonstrated, strong teacher quality and high student achievement come with continuous support and assistance for teachers. Even Bill and Melinda Gates made this point in their October 2011 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal: "In most workplaces, there is an implicit bargain: Employees get the support they need to excel at their jobs, and employers build a system to evaluate their performance. The evaluations yield information that employees use to improve—and that employers use to hold employees accountable for results."

The findings illuminate what we have learned in our work in school districts across the country, especially those that are using the AFT's comprehensive teacher development and evaluation framework introduced in January 2010. Until we make a commitment to develop evaluation systems that are first and foremost about continuous improvement and professional growth, we will continue to struggle in our efforts to provide every child with a high-quality education.

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.