Teachers who are able to engage with students have more success with boosting attendance numbers in middle and high schools, according to a new study from Brown University researchers Jing Liu and Susanna Loeb focusing on attendance as a teacher evaluation metric, Chalkbeat reports.
Certain engaging teachers are able to increase students’ attendance by one or two days per year, and that figure jumps to at least seven more days a year if a student is at high risk of absenteeism, with these benefits eventually translating into higher graduation rates.
The research suggests that tracking higher rates of attendance could be another way to measure teacher success, finding that just because a teacher raised test scores doesn't mean they were also able to raise attendance levels — though higher attendance rates do elevate a students’ chance of future success.
The trend in teacher evaluation in recent years has focused on how educators improve students' academic performance through test scores. But this method often doesn’t take into consideration that some teachers have more difficult students than others, or that not all students are good at taking standardized tests. In addition, teacher observation evaluations by administrators can be biased.
In 2015, teacher evaluations in 43 states included student achievement as part of the evaluation under the No Child Left Behind Act. Now, under the Every Student Succeeds Act, states are allowed to create their own teacher evaluations. Both Arkansas and Kentucky removed the student success measurements. Evaluations are no longer pass/fail, but indicate levels like “distinguished” or “needs improvement.”
The New York state legislature also passed a bill this year that takes student testing out of the teacher evaluation process and gives oversight of evaluations to local districts and unions. This is seen as a victory for unions, which say student testing results are an unfair metric. Critics of test-based teacher evaluations have long argued they encourage teaching to the test rather than focusing on a more well-rounded curriculum, that test scores are not always indicative of later success, and that putting such an emphasis on test scores may backfire.