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Seth B. Hunter

Seth B. Hunter, Katherine M. Bowser.

We extend teacher evaluation research by estimating a reformed evaluation system's plausibly causal average effects on rural student achievement, identifying the settings where evaluation works, and incorporating evaluation expenditures. That the literature omits these contributions is concerning as research implies it hinders evidence-based teacher evaluation policymaking for rural districts, which outnumber urban districts. We apply a difference-in-differences framework to Missouri administrative data. Missouri districts could design and maintain reformed systems or outsource these tasks for a small fee to organizations like the Network for Educator Effectiveness (NEE), an evaluation system created for rural users. NEE does not affect student achievement on average but it improves math, and possibly reading, achievement in rural schools where the average student's prior-year achievement score is below the state average or the average teacher's years of experience are below the state average.

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Seth B. Hunter, Matthew P. Steinberg.

Districts nationwide have revised their educator evaluation systems, increasing the frequency with which administrators observe and evaluate teacher instruction. Yet, limited insight exists on the role of evaluator feedback for instructional improvement. Relying on unique observation-level data, we examine the alignment between evaluator and teacher assessments of teacher instruction and the potential consequences for teacher productivity and mobility. We show that teachers and evaluators typically rate teacher performance similarly during classroom observations, but with significant variability in teacher-evaluator ratings. While teacher performance improves across multiple classroom observations, evaluator ratings likely overstate productivity improvements among the lowest-performing teachers. Evaluators, but not teachers, systematically rate teacher performance lower in classrooms serving higher concentrations of economically disadvantaged students. And while teacher performance improves when evaluators provide more critical feedback about teacher instruction, teachers receiving critical feedback may seek alternative teaching assignments in schools with less critical evaluation settings. We discuss the implications of these findings for the design, implementation and impact of educator evaluation systems.

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