What Happens When Teachers Get More Feedback?

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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Does increased feedback have a positive impact on teachers’ classroom practice?

This is a study of the implementation and impacts of a set of three educator performance measures: observations of teachers’ classroom practices, value-added measures of teacher performance, and a 360-degree survey assessment of principals’ leadership practices. I’d like to thank The Institute for Effective Education for highlighting various research each week. Sign up to their newsletter – it’s a must!

This particular research sparked my interest, not only because of my experience of leading teaching and learning in secondary schools my entire career, but because I now fundamentally believe that coaching – or teachers receiving specific feedback – leads to better outcomes for pupils, the teacher and the school in which they work.

Sadly, we know that there are thousands of schools still grading teachers, despite what the research suggests, and continue to use binary decisions to monitor teachers, rather than trust and develop them to want to be better. Below, I’ve unpicked the highlights from the research (December 2017).

Providing Performance Feedback

Questions asked in this study include:

  1. To what extent were the performance measures and feedback implemented as planned?
  2. To what extent did the performance measures identify more and less effective educators and signal dimensions of practice that most needed improvement?
  3. To what extent did educators’ experiences with performance feedback differ for treatment and control schools?
  4. Did the intervention have an impact on teacher classroom practice and principal leadership?
  5. Did the intervention have an impact on student achievement?

Research Methodology

The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences conducted a study in eight districts and were provided resources and support to implement the following three performance measures in a selected sample of schools in 2012–13 and 2013–14. A total of 127 elementary and middle schools participated in the study.

All three measures differentiated educator performance, although the observation scores and principal leadership measure did not provide consistent feedback to educators on specific areas for improvement.

  1. Classroom practice measure: A measure of teacher classroom practice with subsequent feedback sessions conducted four times per year based on a classroom observation rubric.
  2. Student growth measure: A measure of teacher contributions to student achievement growth (i.e., value-added scores) provided to teachers and their principals once per year.
  3. Principal leadership measure: A measure of principal leadership with subsequent feedback sessions conducted twice per year.


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Feedback from the study’s measures had some positive impacts on teachers’ classroom practice, principals’ leadership, and student achievement. For instance, in Year 1, the intervention had a positive impact on students’ achievement in mathematics, amounting to about four weeks of learning. In Year 2, the impact on mathematics achievement was similar in magnitude but not statistically significant.

This report provides findings on implementation of the measures and impacts of the feedback from those measures on educator and student outcomes.

You can download an executive summary here.


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