Harvard Turns to Technology for Teacher Evaluations

Think back to the old days when your elementary school principal would slip into the back of the classroom and make mysterious jottings on a yellow pad. Your teacher appeared nervous. No matter how quiet the principal tried to be, it seemed the door always slammed as she bustled her way out of the classroom. Evaluating educators has traditionally been an intrusive, subjective process. One person could determine a teacher’s fate. Good day or bad day—new material or review—the evaluation of those few minutes became part of the teacher’s permanent record (yes, teachers had one, too!). Flash forward to this past year.
Researchers at the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) at Harvard University wanted to know if teacher evaluations have to be done the old way, and the answer is No. Instead, they gave teachers cameras in classrooms across the country to learn whether video technology allows for better teacher evaluations. The study is called the Best Foot Forward project.