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June 5, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

Is the Marzano Method of Teacher Evaluation Valid (or Effective)?

Based on skimming his research and given his extensive background in educational research, my best guess would say yes.

Although without knowing your definition of valid–I’m going to answer is it based on scientific and principles of effective teaching based on best practice, the peer reviewed literature, and meta-analysis. (Note I said based on peer reviewed work–absent an alternative system of evaluation which encapsulates the range of research his does–which was peer reviewed–I believe you have to defer to his. Or at least in the absence of a method which is on par with his–you may have to defer to his. You can read Compared to What? below for clarification). Is it perfect? No. It it pretty well researched? Generally and probably on its way to becoming more researched.

This is a critique of his marketing claims:
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/on_performance/2011/06/marzanos_causal_evaluation_system.html

To be fair, it sounds like the practices it attempts to encourage and evaluate are important to the educational process (including a number of meta-analyses). The metric itself hasn’t been studied based on peer review.

A couple ways to think about the research on this question:

Criticism. Marzano I believe has a number of articles on his website which are responding to criticisms. You could read through them and evaluate both sides of the criticism.

“Results” The ultimate best test may be to look at the states his educational consulting firm has worked with and determine if their educational outputs have provided tangible results. I believe in each case his firm has published a “Lessons Learned” as well. *

(They have worked with Florida and Oklahoma I believe. Based on his website it looks like he probably has ongoing work with Arizona, New York, Ohio, Virginia, New Jersey, and Washington.).

Criteria by Criteria. One decent way to take on a methodology like this would be to take research on each component and put his system under the microscope. However, given his publication in the area (30 or so books), he seems well informed about the research picture overall. Even on controversial claims he’s likely to have meta-analysis to back up his methodology.

Process, Method, and Execution. An additional question I might have about a consulting program like this is how much or what kind of context (background training) does his consulting work provide for:
1. teachers
2. evaluators (in other programs this includes principals & others)

Effective or Valid Compared to What? Finally, when a school district need a rubric they need a rubric thats better than nothing or better than most of the alternatives on the market.

* This summarizes their own research & conclusions (you can can down to half way though the report to get to the core of what its saying):
http://www.marzanoevaluation.com/files/Research_Base_and_Validation_Studies_Marzano_Evaluation_Model.pdf

Although you could certainly read the Lessons Learned reports.

Finally, they also seem to maintain this: Marzano Research Laboratory (2009). Meta-analysis database. Retrieved August 24, 2009 from http://www.marzanoresearch.com/research/meta_analysis_database.aspx.

2 Comments

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  1. ivonprefontaine / Jun 7 2012 12:12 am

    Where I teach, there is no ‘evaluation’ once we receive a continuing (sort of permanent) contract. I think, I don’t know what Marzano is proposing, that evaluation is the wrong word or process. The process should be relational in nature and help the teacher in their learning. The way it sits right now I do not think that teaching is the opposite or has much to do with learning.

  2. compassioninpolitics / Jun 8 2012 12:05 am

    The coaching or mentoring model you seem to suggest does seem better. I think it could also benefit from the use of “management by walking around.”–but not in a “i’m watching you” notion–but a I’m here to help you along to be a good teacher.

    One underlying assumption–particularly in the US system–but I’m sure in others–is that principles or other people in the process understand what good and great teaching looks like. A lot has changed in the last 15 years in terms of discovering best practice and intutions from 20 years ago may be helpful–but they have their limits as well.

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