Our entire initiative rests on the ability to speak in an intelligent and common language about teacher effectiveness. Yet early in our planning we discovered that—despite the national consensus on the important role teachers play in student success—there was no agreement on what constitutes effective practice. Nor was there a reliable measurement tool to evaluate teachers across grade levels and content areas.
We partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project, a two-year national research study to develop and test a variety of evaluation tools and technologies.
What grew out of this work is a model of equity and excellence for Memphis City Schools, as well as schools around the nation.
Step 1: What we mean by “Teaching Effectiveness.”
An effective teacher can advance a student one or more grade levels for every year of instruction.
With this outcome in mind, MCS has crafted a definition of teaching effectiveness based on nine behaviors and/or actions that lead to student growth. We are asking all teachers in the district—new and tenured—to use this definition to guide their efforts as they strive to improve instructional practice.
Step 2: Turning this vision into factors we can measure—consistently and objectively.
This year, we introduced our own tool to evaluate teacher performance. Called the Teacher Effectiveness Measure (TEM), this customized, rigorous metric is both fair and reliable, taking into account the multiple dimensions that go into effective teaching.
The basic components of the TEM:
This ground-breaking work by Memphis City Schools not only positions the district to attain our goals for improved achievement, but also places us on the leading edge of education reform nationwide.
The TEM Working Group is a council of teachers, principals, and district representatives convened in 2009 to assist in the creation of a new teacher evaluation tool. Since that time, the group has made a series of significant recommendations that have led to the success of the TEM project. Its work, and that of similar working groups, is central to the story of teacher-led reform in Memphis.
Members of the TEM working group: