On the other hand, we can also consider how measures of teaching quality and impact could help further the agenda of equity and access to high quality instruction for all students. We suggest that observation protocols tuned to culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy encourages access to learning for all students. Likewise, disposition measures can be used to describe equity-based teaching in such a way that teacher preparation programs can use them confidently for coaching and licensing purposes (Beaton et al., 2016). In order to assure that measures of teacher effectiveness are advancing our practice of educational equity and not systematically disadvantaging particular groups of people, we will need to continue developing new paradigms of teacher evaluation and ongoing support and redevelopment.
Measures of teaching knowledge
Measures of various forms of knowledge for teaching are recognized as being a necessary (but not sufficient) factor in effective teaching (Darling-Hammond, 2013). Many states currently separate teacher knowledge into categories, such as content knowledge (or subject-matter knowledge), pedagogical knowledge, and general knowledge for the purposes of teacher licensing or credentials.
Content knowledge exams that focus on specific subject matter knowledge are widely used for their relative
efficiency, but they tend to have narrow content foci which
can limit their usefulness as a sole measure of teacher knowledge. For example, mathematics content exams can focus on measuring whether or not the test-taker can solve procedural mathematics tasks similar to those a mathematics student might need to solve on a standardized test. However, substantial research has demonstrated that this is not the only mathematics necessary for a teacher to understand (Ball & Bass, 2000; Hill, Rowan, & Ball, 2005). A better measure would focus more broadly on mathematical knowledge for teaching and incorporate tasks with problems of practice directly related to the knowledge necessary for teaching mathematics. Additionally, focusing solely on procedural math tasks has the same deficiency in assessing teachers as it does in assessing students — it is not representative of the type of rich, conceptual mathematical tasks we would like teachers to teach or students to explore in their mathematics classes. In these two ways, content knowledge exams are insufficient for being used as a sole measure or assessment of teacher knowledge.
Pedagogical knowledge is typically measured through content-generic pedagogy tests which are differentiated by wide grade bands. However, research has demonstrated that pedagogical knowledge varies in relation to the particular content being taught (Gess-Newsome & Lederman, 1999; Shulman, 1986). Measurement of pedagogical knowledge could be enhanced by attending more directly to pedagogical content knowledge in specific content disciplines. Furthermore, pedagogical knowledge demonstrated in the context of a multiple-choice exam may not be consistent with the pedagogical knowledge that might be assessed through measures closer to teacher practice, such as observations or other performance assessments. Pedagogical knowledge, too, would benefit from a more robust and diverse set of assessments.