Teacher perceptions of a new performance evaluation system and their influence on practice: A within- and between-school level analysis


  • Matthew Finster Westat
  • Anthony Milanowski Westat




policy, teacher evaluation system, teacher perceptions, school climate, structural equation modeling


Teacher performance evaluation systems (PESs) are central to policy efforts to increase teacher effectiveness and student learning. We argue that for these reforms to work, PESs need to be treated as coherent systems, in which teachers perceive that there are linkages between the PES components. Using teacher survey data from a large, midwestern school district, this article explores the linkages between teacher perceptions of a new PES using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), structural equation modeling (SEM), and multilevel CFA. We also examine whether a strong evaluation climate developed in this district. The CFA and SEM analysis demonstrate that teacher perceptions of PES are interrelated and linked to perceptions of changes in teaching practices and to the potential impact on student learning. The multilevel CFA demonstrates cross-level noninvariance, with fewer factors being identified at the school levels. These results suggest a need for a school‐level theory of action with corresponding school‐level constructs. While we did not find evidence of a shared strong evaluation climate, the results of the analysis illustrate the importance of examining within-school agreement, both to assess the reliability of between-school differences in average teacher perceptions and to assess whether schools are developing a strong evaluation climate.


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Author Biographies

Matthew Finster, Westat

Matthew Finster is a senior research associate with Westat focusing on teacher quality and human capital management issues in education. At Westat, he has provided technical assistance to Federal grantees, such as Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grantees, in the area of human capital management, including performance compensation, teacher retention, teacher leadership, and educator evaluation systems. He has written or coauthored briefs on performance incentives, teacher retention, teacher leadership, and teacher evaluation. Dr. Finster received a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Washington-Seattle.

Anthony Milanowski, Westat

Anthony Milanowski was previously a senior researcher at Westat when the research for this article was conducted, but is now a research scientist at Education Analytics. His research has involved educator performance evaluation and compensation, as well as the alignment of human resource management practices with district goals and strategies for improving student outcomes. He also provided technical assistance to grantees participating in the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF). Before joining Westat, he was an assistant scientist with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Milanowski received a Ph.D. in Industrial Relations from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has taught courses on a variety of human resource management topics.




How to Cite

Finster, M., & Milanowski, A. (2018). Teacher perceptions of a new performance evaluation system and their influence on practice: A within- and between-school level analysis. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 26, 41. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.26.3500