States lay strong foundation for classroom observations:
Classroom observation systems that improve teaching require sustained commitment

News release

Atlanta, GA — Teachers could see substantial gains in the classroom if state and district leaders commit to fleshing out new observation systems over the long run, according to a February report from the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).

Toward Trustworthy and Transformative Classroom Observations examines state roll outs of new classroom observation systems designed to improve feedback and support for all educators. To ensure the system is used as a tool to transform school culture into one of growth and support, the report finds, state and local leaders must build out from the foundation they have created.

Observers and teachers need more training on the rubric, and on giving and receiving high quality feedback. Raters need more calibration opportunities to ensure they are accurate. All districts and schools need to connect evaluation systems to professional learning opportunities for teachers to improve their instruction.

“Introducing a new rubric and initial training is only the beginning,” said Tysza Gandha, author of the report and senior research associate at SREB. “Principals and teachers need ongoing support and learning opportunities to make observations and feedback a regular part of school life.”

The report provides recommendations to leaders on how to move the work forward in the following areas:

  • Framing observations
  • Training observers
  • Ensuring observation quality
  • Building a system and culture of educator support
  • Monitoring implementation for continuous improvement

Examples of promising practices in the SREB region are embedded throughout the report.

SREB will continue to support classroom observation implementation through policy analysis and advisory, field studies and technical assistance.

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The Southern Regional Education Board works with states to improve public education at every level, from early childhood through doctoral education. A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Atlanta, SREB was created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislatures to advance education and improve the social and economic life of the region. SREB member states are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.