Virtual observation-based educator evaluation
In order to more robustly evaluate teachers using information other than student test scores, certain educational institutions place video cameras in classrooms and use the the recordings to assess educator performance. The recordings can also be used to provide other teachers with examples of effective or ineffective teaching methods.
- Goal: Increase the effectiveness of educators
- Goal: Increase the precision of an educator’s evaluated effectiveness
The administration at Christina's school elected to place video cameras in the classrooms of Christina and several of her colleagues. The recordings are used to evaluate Christina's teaching methods without distracting her and her students through administrator observation or student performance.
Tradeoffs of implementing this policy may include:
- Loss of privacy for educator and students, particularly if records of virtual observation are preserved
- Risk of measurement error in assessing educator performance if virtual observation is limited to specific periods and educators know when they are being observed (due to "Hawthorne effect," or subjects behaving differently due to knowledge of being evaluated).
- Upfront installation cost of purchasing and installing recording and/or broadcasting equipment in each classroom
If answered yes, the following questions indicate conditions under which the policy may be most effectively implemented:
- Does the school have sufficient expertise and funding to install the necessary equipment?
- Will the school be able to identify or compensate staff who will have time to perform their observations?
- Does the school have a well-defined plan for the purpose of virtual observations and how knowledge gained from them will be used?
The following questions should be considered when determining how to implement this policy:
- How frequently will educators be observed (e.g., daily vs. monthly vs. quarterly)?
- How will administrators ensure that educators do not know when they are being observed?
- Who will be responsible for observing and evaluating (e.g., peer educators vs. school leaders)?
- Will any restrictions be placed on how the content of the observations can be used (e.g., will recordings or observations also be allowed as security cameras or evidence in student disciplinary proceedings)?
- Will observations be recorded or simply livestreamed?
- Limited. The use of virtual observation techniques is typically limited to well-resourced school districts of sufficient scale.
- Early Childhood, Primary, Secondary. Virtual observation can theoretically be employed at all levels of education. However, it is unusual for it to be employed above Secondary due to the greater degree of specialization among education subjects at Post-Secondary and Graduate levels of education.
- Notable entities who have implemented or adopted this policy include:
- City of New York (New York City Department of Education, NY)
- City of Dallas (District of Dallas Independent School District, TX)
- City of Denver (District of Denver Public Schools, CO)
- City of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh Public Schools, PA)
- City of Memphis (Memphis City Schools, TN)
- County of Mecklenburg (District of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, NC)
- County of Hillsborough (Hillsborough County Public Schools, FL)
- Constituent Groups - School Administrators and Leaders. Assumption: Virtual observation provides for more effective evaluations of educator performance.
- Labor Unions - Teachers. Assumption: Observations and recordings may be viewed as reducing educator privacy and a threat to professional discipline.
- Constituent Groups - Parents and Parent Associations. Assumption: Some parents will view virtual observation (and recording in particular) as reducing student privacy.
- Susan E.B. Pirie "Classroom Video-Recording: When, Why and How Does It Offer a Valuable Data Source for Qualitative Research? (1996)"